Dutch driver Theo Timmerman has rounded off a successful year by winning his first FEI World Cup contest and securing his ticket to the final.
Timmerman beat his compatriot Koos de Ronde and Hungarian driver József Dobrovitz and four other drivers in the last qualifier of 2013 held in Mechelen, Belgium, on Monday night.
Dutch O-course designer Johan Jacobs, who was responsible for the tracks in Verona, Geneva and London Olympia this season, had laid out a good course for the Belgian leg of the series. He will also be building the course for the FEI World Cup Driving Final which will be held in the French city of Bordeaux in February 2014.
It was a last chance competition for Timmerman, who had to finish among the top three in Mechelen to qualify for the final. His outdoor season had been successful, with individual gold at the FEI European Four-in-Hand Driving Championships held in Izsák (HUN) in September and at the Dutch National Championships. But his indoor season has had its ups and downs.
Timmerman was determined to perform well in Mechelen, knowing Mechelen winner Koos De Ronde was competing with a wildcard and the full 10 World Cup points would go to him even if he were to finish behind his teammate. Timmerman drove his special indoor team very fast through the fluent course and even managed to beat his own time of the first round by nearly two seconds.
Tomas Eriksson (SWE) was very close to a top-three placing, but after one knockdown, he also hit the last set of cones, which dropped him down to fourth place. Mechelen was also the last competition for József Dobrovitz Jr (HUN), who had his good friend, double FEI world pony four-in-hand champion Bram Chardon (NED), assist him on the carriage as his navigator. Dobrovitz Jr drove a clear and safe round, but did not reach the speed necessary for a top placing. The 21-year-old finished in 10th place in his first FEI World Cup Driving season.
Georg von Stein (GER) had two knockdowns and came in sixth, which puts him into a provisional fourth place in the series standings. Von Stein will start with a wildcard in Leipzig in mid-January and it will depend on the performances of his compatriots Michael Brauchle and Daniel Schneiders whether he will manage to remain in the top six to qualify for the final.
Second wildcard driver Glenn Geerts (BEL) put on a good performance driving his outdoor team of horses. Sadly he lost one of his best wheeler horses several weeks ago and had to use a spare horse, but the 24-year-old talented driver was still very proud to compete at top level in front of his home crowd.
1 Theo Timmerman (NED) 251,75
2 Koos de Ronde (NED) 256,27
3 József Dobrovitz (HUN) 273,60
4 Tomas Eriksson (SWE) 134,19
5 József Dobrovitz jr. (HUN) 136,80
6 Georg von Stein (GER) 136,96
7 Glenn Geerts (BEL) 143,85
Standings after 8 of 9 events:
1 IJsbrand CHARDON NED 32
1 Boyd EXELL AUS 32
3 Theo TIMMERMAN NED 23
4 Georg VON STEIN GER 21
4 Koos DE RONDE NED 21
6 Tomas ERIKSSON SWE 20
7 Jozsef DOBROVITZ HUN 18
8 Michael BRAUCHLE GER 15
8 Daniel SCHNEIDERS GER 15
10 Jozsef DOBROVITZ jr. HUN 14