Fábiánsebestyén (HUN)- After four days of fascinating sport at the 16th FEI World Pairs Driving Championships at the Kinizi Horse Park in Fábiánsebestyén (HUN), the home side’s Vilmos Lázár was re-crowned as world champion, making this the 48-year-old’s fifth world pairs gold – a record in Driving history. Lázár’s younger brother Zoltan claimed silver, while Italy’s Jozsef Dibak took bronze.
Hungary also took team gold for the sixth time since the first FEI World Pairs Driving Championships in 1983, after victories in 1989, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2013, with Italy finishing with the silver, and bronze going to Germany.
The Dressage took place over two days in less than perfect weather in the Kinizi grass arena for the 65 competitors from 20 nations, but the continuous rain didn’t bother Italian driver Claudio Fumagalli. The 38-year-old, based in Beekbergen (NED), drove a marvellous test with his Dutch-bred horses finishing on 42.18 to take the lead ahead of defending champion Vilmos Lázár. Fumagalli’s compatriot Jozsef Dibak was third after Dressage, putting Italy on track for a team medal in pole position after the first phase, with Hungary second and Germany in third.
Hungarian course designer Gábor Fintha was responsible for the exciting marathon course on the Kinizi grounds, with all eight marathon obstacles – including two water obstacles and one with a water passage – requiring the best technical skills from the drivers. Weather conditions were perfect but the earlier rain made the footing heavy and slippery. The Organising Committee put in a tremendous effort to improve conditions, including scraping off the top layer of mud from over six kilometres on the A-section of the marathon the night before, but it was well worth the trouble as it resulted in fit horses at the finish of the 16-kilometre long marathon.
More than 5,000 spectators cheered on the drivers, enjoying the sun and great sport, especially as the Hungarian drivers performed extremely well. Vilmos Lázár, competing with Hungarian sport horses, won the marathon by a small margin. Jozsef Dobrovitz jr, who competed as a member of the Hungarian team at the FEI European Four-in-Hand Championships in Aachen (GER) last month, took second place, and German individual driver Sandro Koalick finished third. These results meant that Hungary took over the lead in the standings, with Italy dropping to second despite strong performances from Fumagalli and Dibak.
The cones course on Sunday proved to be real a challenge with no-one going clear. Romanian Eduard Bartha was best on the day, finishing with just 0.33 penalty points for exceeding the time allowed. Jozsef Dibak was next best in the cones to secure team silver for Italy, and also rewrote history by capturing individual bronze at the expense of his team mate, Fumagalli who dropped to sixth place with two knockdowns and time penalties.
Overnight leader Vilmos Lázár held his nerve and, with just one knockdown, successfully defended his title on home soil and also led Hungary to team gold together with brother Zoltán (individual silver) and József Dobrovitz jr (fourth place). The German trio of Arndt Lörcher, Anna Sandmann and Sebastian Warneck held on for bronze.
With Dibak taking home the bronze medal, the individual podium was actually completely Hungarian as Dibak was born in Hungary but moved to Italy and has Italian citizenship. The 42-year-old professional carriage driver works for the Italian pairs driver Francesco Aletti Montano, who was the third Italian team member in Fábiánsebestyén.
1. Vilmos Lázár (HUN) 160.12
2. Zoltán Lázár (HUN) 166.25
3. Jozsef Dibak (ITA) 166.86
4. József Dobrovitz jr (HUN) 169.26
5. Sebastian Warneck (GER) 170.99
1. Hungary 322.47
2. Italy 340.29
3. Germany 357.41
4. Austria 365.35
5. Romania 370.51