13 September 2015

Fábiánsebestyén: Double gold for Hungary

After four days of fascinating sport at the 16th FEI World Pair Driving Championships at the Kinizi Horse Park in Fábiánsebestyén, Hungary, 48-year old Vilmos Lázár (HUN) was re-crowned the world champion, making this his fifth world pair gold, a record in driving history. Lázár’s younger brother Zoltan claimed silver, Italian Jozsef Dibak took bronze.
Hungary also took team gold for the sixth time since the first FEI World Pair Driving Championships in 1983, after victories in 1989, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2013, with Italy finishing on silver, and bronze going to Germany.

The dressage took place over two days in not the best weather circumstances in the Kinizi grass arena for the 65 competitors from 20 nations, nevertheless the continuous rain showers did not bother Italian driver Claudio Fumagalli. The 38-year-old driver, based in Beekbergen, the Netherlands, drove a marvellous test with his Dutch bred horses finishing on 42.18 and taking the lead before defending FEI World Pair Driving Champion Vilmos Lázár. Fumagalli’s compatriot Jozsef Dibak placed third in dressage and put Italy on track for a team medal as Italy went into pole position after dressage, with Hungary starting on the second place and Germany in third position.

The Hungarian course designer Gábor Fintha was responsible for the exciting marathon course on the Kinizi grounds, with all eight marathon obstacles, amongst which two water obstacles and one with a water passage, requiring the best technical skills from the drivers. The weather conditions were perfect but the footing was heavy and slippery after the rainfall the days before which demanded much from the horses. The Organising Committee however had made a tremendous effort to improve the conditions and had for example scraped the top mud layer off in the A-section of the marathon the night before, which was over 6 km long. This 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. The Hungarian drivers performed extremely well, Vilmos Lázár, competing with Hungarian sport horses, won the marathon by a small margin, with Jozsef Dobrovitz jr, who competed as member of the Hungarian team at the FEI European Four-in-Hand Championships in Aachen last month taking second place, and German individual driver Sandro Koalick finishing third. With these results Hungary took over the lead in the standings, Italy dropping to second place despite strong performances of Fumagalli and Dibak.

Click here for the results

Click here for the photos

The cones course on Sunday proved to be a challenge with no-one going clear, Romanian Eduard Bartha did best and finished with just 0.33 penalty points for exceeding the time allowed, followed by Jozsef Dibak who, with this result not only secured team silver for Italy, but also wrote history with capturing individual bronze. Fumagalli was on bronze before the cones but had two knockdowns and time penalties, which dropped him to the sixth place.

Leader of the standings Vilmos Lázár kept his nerves, and had only one knock down. The crowd saw him not only win gold but help Hungary to win team gold together with brother Zoltán (individual silver) and József Dobrovitz jr (fourth place). Favourite Germany claimed bronze with Arndt Lörcher, Anna Sandmann and Sebastian Warneck.
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 the Italian citizenship. The 42-year-old professional carriage driver works for the Italian pair driver Francesco Aletti Montano who was the third Italian team member in Fábiánsebestyén.