The 11th season of the FEI World Cup driving competition moves indoors this week, as Hanover in Germany hosts the league's opener.
FEI World Cup Driving title holder Boyd Exell, of Australia. © Kit Houghton
Ten top-class drivers will battle it out for the ultimate title of FEI World Cup Driving champion. Germany, which was absent from the series for the past two seasons, is making a significant comeback and will now be represented by two drivers.
The qualification season consisted of 14 competitions held throughout Europe with the top 10 drivers qualifying for the 2011-2012 season. Amongst these, there is one newcomer: Georg von Stein from Germany. Von Stein competed as a wild card in the FEI World Cup Driving Final 2011 in Leipzig where he finished sixth.
Von Stein's compatriot Rainer Duen joined the FEI World Cup Driving at the last minute after Chester Weber (USA), who was in second place on the outdoor season standings, decided not to compete. Duen competed in the 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 seasons and is looking forward the new challenge.
Three-time FEI World Cup Driving champion Boyd Exell of Australia will aim for his fourth title this season but can expect strong competition from the runners up in the 2010/2011 final Jozsef Dobrovitz (HUN) and IJsbrand Chardon (NED) as well as from Koos de Ronde (NED), Zoltan Lazar (HUN), Werner Ulrich (SUI), Theo Timmerman (NED), and Tomas Eriksson (SWE) all of whom have competed series before.
The 11th season of the FEI World Cup Driving series is made up of seven competitions in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Hungary and Belgium. Five drivers from the 10 qualified for the season will compete at each event; organisers may give wild cards. Wild card drivers cannot earn World Cup points.
The season consist of seven qualifiers (CAI-Ws) and a Final.
Ten four-in-hand drivers have qualified for the 11th season of the FEI World Cup Driving 2011-2012.
The top five drivers will compete in four events of which the best three results count.
The top six to ten drivers will compete in three events of which all results count.
Drivers earn points for their placing at each event.
The Final is open to the top six drivers of the standings after the seventh event (CAI-W Leipzig).
At each event, the Organiser may award one or two wild cards. However, the wild card(s) driver(s) cannot earn points counting towards the standings of the series.
Each FEI World Cup Driving qualifier consists of two competitions. The starting order in the first competition is decided by a draw. The starting order in the second competition - the FEI World Cup Driving - is in reverse order of merit from the first competition.
The FEI World Cup Driving courses consist of marathon type obstacles, a bridge, and eight to 12 cone-type obstacles. The course must be driven in the correct order and as fast as possible. Every knock down (ball or element) will cause five penalty seconds to be added to the time of the competitor.
In the final, the starting order for Competition 1 is in reverse order of the standings after Phase 1. Fifty percent (50%) of the score from Competition 1 (converted into seconds) will be carried forward by the driver into Competition 2. Scores from Competition 2 will be carried forward by the qualified drivers into the drive off.