Bordeaux (FRA) - Dutch driver IJsbrand Chardon has taken the lead of the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final 2015 in Bordeaux (FRA) after the first competition held last night. The reigning FEI World Cup™ Driving Champion Boyd Exell (AUS) is close second. Germany’s Christoph Sandmann is currently lying in third position.
IJsbrand Chardon was the first of the three favourites for the title to start on the challenging course laid out by Dan Henriksson (SWE). Despite the late hour, the Bordeaux spectators cheered enthusiastically the seven drivers. Chardon drove his team of three Lipizzaners and one KWPN to a clear and very fast round.
Fredrik Persson (SWE), the next man in the arena, went also clear crossing the finish line 14 seconds behind Chardon and finishing in fourth place with his lovely team of Swedish warm blood geldings. This means that in today’s second competition he will start with seven seconds to his name since 50% of the score differential between each competitor and the leading driver from the first competition on Saturday evening converted into seconds will be carried forward into the competition on Sunday.
Next favourite in was Koos de Ronde (NED), who drove the same team with which he won the last FEI World Cup™ Driving qualifier in Leipzig (GER) two weeks ago. De Ronde however knocked a cone down and had bad luck when the trace of one of his wheeler horses came loose. His grooms had to step down from the carriage to repair this, which cost him five penalty seconds in addition to some time penalties. De Ronde will change one horse in Sunday’s competition and will use the leader with which he won the qualifiers at Budapest (HUN) and Mechelen (BEL). De Ronde will start with nine seconds behind Chardon on Sunday.
Last man in and top favourite Boyd Exell drove a very nice round in which he did not push for speed. His goal was to drive a clear which he managed to produce. Exell finds himself at a disadvantage this weekend as he nearly lost one of his fingers after a concrete block smashed his left hand last week. The stitches are causing much pain and the Australian used his hand carefully in last night’s competition. The difference between Chardon and Exell is 1.59 seconds, which means Exell will only be 0.8 seconds behind Chardon in Sunday’s grand finale which is building up to be very exciting.
Third starter Christoph Sandmann drove a smooth round and was well on his way to a clear but unfortunately knocked a ball off the last gate. Despite this mistake, Sandmann, who has not competed in Bordeaux since the start of the FEI World Cup™ Driving series in 2002, went in a very fluent manner and finished in third place. He will start with 5.90 penalty seconds to his name in the Final.
The sixth place went to wildcard driver Sébastien Mourier (FRA) with his team of mixed grey Polish, Spanish, and Austrian horses. Georg von Stein (GER) missed the necessary speed and fluency in his team and had to settle for seventh place.
IJsbrand Chardon (NED): “My tactics were not to give too much. Because this first competition counts for the Final, I wanted to finish as close as possible to the time of the winner. I did not want to take any risks and to take myself out of the competition on the first day already. I used Aladin again in the lead of my team and my round went very easily. I am very happy!”
Boyd Exell (AUS): “My team was very driveable and easy. I did hold them back the whole round to make sure I drove clear. I also had to be careful with my hand. For the Final I can put IJsbrand under pressure a little bit by driving a clear round. My main goal is to keep my focus!”
Christoph Sandmann (GER): “The course was technically very difficult and it will be decisive in the Final on Sunday. My plan was to drive a clear round after I had seen the first two competitors and I took few risks. In the Final I will start safely and keep it that way until at least the fifth gate. After that I’ll give it my all and take all the risks there are.”
Results after the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final 2015 first competition
Saturday, 7 February 2015:
1.IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 131,30
2.Boyd Exell (AUS) 132,89
3.Christoph Sandmann (GER) 143,08
4.Fredrik Persson (SWE) 145,54
5.Koos de Ronde (NED) 149,39
6.Sebastien Mourier (FRA) 170,06
7.Georg von Stein (GER) 189,93
The second competition of the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final in Bordeaux will be broadcast live on FEI TV, the FEI’s official video platform, on Sunday, 8 February at 13.25 CET (local time in France).
First competition wrap-up http://youtu.be/h3PGb2MMcko
Course designer Dan Henriksson (SWE) http://youtu.be/wexvASEMYvc
Boyd Exell (AUS) http://youtu.be/wK9LY_jtFis
Christoph Sandmann (GER) http://youtu.be/1toUbQzyAAU
Fredrik Persson (SWE) http://youtu.be/BkgXpLZricY
Koos De Ronde (NED) http://youtu.be/OKhE2gr34ro