De Ronde scores in Belgian World Cup driving round

January 2, 2009

Dutch National Champion Koos de Ronde finished 2008 with a spectacular win in the FEI World Cup Driving competition in Mechelen, Belgium. Germany's Christoph Sandmann and Michael Brauchle came second and third. Four times World Champion and winner in Hannover IJsbrand Chardon ended in fifth place after he knocked five balls down.

Koos de Ronde has won the 6th leg of the FEI World Cup Driving season in Mechelen. © Rinaldo de Craen
De Ronde left his fellow competitors Sandmann and wild card driver Brauchle far behind with a very fast and clear first round. After Brauchle was eliminated in the second round because of driving a wrong course and Sandmann knocked three balls down, De Ronde knew the only thing he had to do was to finish in a reasonable time. But De Ronde again showed everything he had and treated the enthusiastic crowd in the Nekkerhal to a truly enjoying and spectacular second round.

After the third place in Hannover and the second place in Budapest, De Ronde knew it was time for a victory. De Ronde is with one more competition to go in third place in the standings and certain of a starting ticket for the final.

The Organising Committee gave one of the wild cards to Germany's Michael Brauchle. The OC wanted to give young talent a chance to compete at this level and since Belgium does not have anyone at the moment that fits this profile, Brauchle was invited. The 18-year-old driver won the marathon in Aachen and contributed to the silver team medal in Beesd 2008. Brauchle also received a wild card in Stuttgart, where he came fifth. He put down a very good performance in the first round, but misunderstood Falk Bohnisch's course plan and was eliminated in the second round. Instead of taking gates A, B, C, D, Brauchle interpreted A-D on the course map as if he only had to take gates A and D. Brauchle nevertheless received a supporting applause from the 8000 spectators.

World Cup title defender Christoph Sandmann tried to put some pressure on De Ronde but he failed after he knocked three balls down. Sandmann had a double function this week as he also had to support his eldest daughter who competed in an international pony jumping competition in The Netherlands. The 2008 team silver medallist is currently in fifth position in the standings and is hoping for a starting place for the Final.

Sweden's Tomas Eriksson came fourth ahead of second wild card driver Gert Schrijvers from Belgium whose brake system of the carriage broke which caused three balls to fall. Mechelen was not Fredrik Persson's best show of the season so far. In the warm up competition, his leader horses jumped to the side before crossing the bridge, passed another gate and was eliminated. In the FEI World Cup Driving competition Persson could not get his team going again and came seventh. Persson has one more chance in Leipzig to qualify for the Final.