8 February 2015

Bordeaux: Chardon takes the lead

IJsbrand Chardon from the Netherlands has taken the lead in the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final in Bordeaux. The reigning FEI World Cup™ Driving Champion Boyd Exell closely follows Chardon from Australia. German driver Christoph Sandmann is currently lying in third position.

Photo: Rinaldo de Craen

IJsbrand Chardon was the first of the three most favourite drivers for the title to start in the challenging course, laid out by Dan Henriksson (SWE). Despite the late night hour, the Bordeaux spectators cheered the seven drivers enthusiastically during their courses. Chardon drove a calculated round with his team of Lipizzaner horses and one KWPN horse and set a very fast and clear round.

Fredrik Persson (SWE) was the next man in and also set a clear round, but passed the finish line 14 seconds behind Chardon and finished on the fourth place with his lovely team of Swedish warm blood geldings. Person is now lying on the fourth place on 14 seconds behind Chardon. This means that in the Final he will start with 7 seconds behind his name, since 50% of the score differential between each driver 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 as with which he had 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 from the carriage to repair this, which cost him another five penalty seconds and some time. De Ronde will change one leader horse in Sunday’s competition with which he won the Qualifiers at Budapest and Mechelen. Koos will start with 9 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 round in which he succeeded. Boyd has a bit of a handicap this weekend; he nearly lost the top of one of his fingers on his left hand after a concrete block fell on it last week. The stitches cause much pain and Boyd drove very careful with his hand. The difference between Chardon and Exell is 1,59 seconds, which means Boyd will only be 0,80 seconds behind IJsbrand in the Finale on Sunday afternoon at 13.35 hrs. This promises to become a very exciting competition.

Third starter Christoph Sandmann was well on his way and drove a smooth round, in which he unfortunately knocked a ball off the last gate in the course. Sandmann, who has not competed in Bordeaux since the start of the FEI World Cup™ Driving series in 2002, was very fluent and finished on the third place. Christoph will start with 5,90 penalty seconds behind his name in the Final.

The sixth place went to wild card driver Sébastien Mourier (FRA) with his team of mixed grey Polish, Spanish and Austrian horses. Georg von Stein (GER) missed the necessary speed and fluent less in his team and had to be satisfied with the seventh place.

IJsbrand Chardon (NED): “My tactics were not to give in 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 risk and to take myself out off the competition on the first day already. I used Aladin again in the lead of my team and my round went very easy, 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 pressure IJsbrand 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 I think the course will be decisive in the Final on Sunday. I did not drive full risk; my plan was to drive a clear round after I had seen the first two competitors. In the Final I will start safe, at least until the fifth gate. After that, I think I can start taking some more risk.”