Aachen (GER)- Michael Brauchle (GER) is the new individual FEI European Driving Champion after putting everything on the line in the final phase of the European Championships to win the marathon and overtake IJsbrand Chardon (NED) in the individual standings.The bronze individual medal went to Koos de Ronde (NED), and the combined scores of Chardon and de Ronde, together with 11th placed Theo Timmerman meant the Dutch claimed team gold again.
Brauchle, 25, was in fifth place after the dressage and cones and decided to really go for it in the marathon, his favourite phase of the competition. Brauchle was 56 seconds behind Chardon, overnight leader in the standings.
Winner of the marathon at the CAIO Aachen 2008, when he was the youngest ever, and in 2011 and 2013, Brauchle set the fastest times in six of the obstacles today and was second and third fastest in the remaining two, leaving his opponents far behind him.
“I was able to use my best wheeler horse again, which I had to miss in the previous two competitions”, Brauchle said. “I started very fast and the horses got better and better after each obstacle. I drove at full risk, then I am at my best!”
More than 58 seconds faster than Chardon, Brauchle’s incredible performance eased him ahead of his Dutch rival by the slimmest of margins – 0.21 – to give him victory in the marathon and his first ever individual gold medal.
Brauchle’s compatriot Christoph Sandmann was lying 12th going into the final phase and was also determined to perform well in the marathon, which attracted throngs of enthusiastic spectators who were able to enjoy a warm, sunny day and really great sport. Sandmann set top times in nearly all obstacles, securing second place in this competition and helping the German team to the silver medal.
Koos de Ronde’s third place finish gave him his second individual bronze medal at the FEI European Championships, having taken bronze in 2011 in Breda (NED).
“The differences between myself and Dobrovitz and Brauchle were very small and my goal was to secure my third position by driving safely”, he said. “My team did not perform good enough to win the marathon at this level, but despite a knockdown in obstacle three I still finished third in this phase, for which I am very happy.”
Last out on the course, IJsbrand Chardon fought like a lion in the eight obstacles, designed by level 4 Course Designer Dr Wolfgang Asendorf. It didn’t come easy for the four-times World Champion however.
“My horses did not have the right form to perform well today”, Chardon said. “I had a mistake in obstacle two, which cost me precious seconds. I did calculate before that I would lose some seconds to Brauchle in every obstacle, but I haven’t tried to equal his times because I wanted to finish safe.”
After Chardon had passed the finish line of the marathon, which included a portable marathon obstacle in the main stadium for the first time, the scoreboards showed Chardon provisionally in first place, with Brauchle as the runner-up in the final standings, but when the scores were made official later on, Brauchle was declared the new European champion with Chardon as silver medallist.
The team standings mirrored the 2013 results. The Dutch successfully defended their team title, while the German hosts fought hard and took home the silver medal again, while the Hungarians slotted into third for the bronze.
FEI European Driving Championships, individual results (Marathon phase):
Michael Brauchle (GER) 109.61
Christoph Sandmann (GER) 114.45
Koos de Ronde (NED) 122.73
Glenn Geerts (BEL) 122.83
IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 124.14
FEI European Driving Championships, final individual standings:
Michael Brauchle (GER) 162.16
IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 162.37
Koos de Ronde (NED) 170.93
József Dobrovitz (HUN) 172.68
Christoph Sandmann (GER) 176.32
FEI European Driving Championships, final team standings:
The Netherlands 328.05
Visit www.aachen2015.de for detailed results