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|Eriksson beats Freund on home soil
Gothenburg, 11th April 2004
The the final round of the FEI driving World Cup, Sweden?s Tomas Eriksson has done what no driver did this season: he beat triple World Cup Champion Michael Freund ! In front of an ecstatic Swedish crowd in the Globen arena in Gothenburg, Eriksson stayed ahead of Freund and his compatriot Christoph Sandmann to win the final round and climbed to fourth place in the overall standings.
The best three drivers from the first round, Eriksson, Sandmann and Freund, had qualified for the drive-off. The times and penalty seconds of both rounds were added together.
"I hit two balls in the first round and knew that I had to go for it. I took a lot of risks and was lucky to stay clear, which put extra pressure on Sandmann," explained Eriksson.
Sandmann was unable to equal Eriksson?s time in the fast course, which was set at 10 cm tighter than yesterday?s warm up competition, and knocked one ball down.
Freund, however, driving with a wild card, knew that he had to drive faster than his first round. Haste is never good, especially in the last FEI World Cup Driving event of this season. Freund knocked two balls down, which dropped him to second place in the final results in Gothenburg.
This result did not have any effect on his third World Cup title, since he had already won the full 40 points after Vigo and could not be beaten anymore: "I did not feel nervous before I started in the winning round, but I turn 50 this September and today it was the first time I felt like 50," explained the sympathetic driver with a smile.
Freund?s compatriot Rainer Duen, driving his team of Oldenburger horses, was very pleased with his fourth place: "The Gothenburg Horse Show is a fantastic event, with super sponsors and a super crowd. It is a great pleasure and great fun to drive here," explained the 32-year old professional horseman.
Jozsef Bozsik, who travelled all the way from Hungary, came fifth with his mixed team of Lipizzaner and Hungarian geldings and stallions.
Switzerland?s Werner Ulrich encountered some difficulties with his right leader horse. His team was not able to make adequate turns to the right, which cost him valuable seconds, and he had to be content with sixth place.
Second wild card driver Fredrik Persson, who is employed by the national equestrian school and stud at Flyinge since February, finished seventh: "I just need more indoor experience to perform better. Yesterday in the warm up competition I drove too fast, today I drove too slowly. My goal this year is to qualify for the FEI World Cup season 2004/2005 so I can get more indoor experience."
Freund wins third World Cup title
At the end of the season after 8 events, the final points standings are as follows:
Michael Freund therefore becomes the FEI World Cup Champion for the third time.
FEI World Cup director Max Ammann mentioned that for next season, the same World Cup events will participate in the World Cup Driving, as well as Hannover, which will become part of the World Cup circuit for the first time.
Ten drivers can qualify at eleven outdoor international driving events; the best four results will count. The season will open in Stuttgart on 17-21 November 2004.
CLICK HERE for the full results and points standing in the 2003-4 World Cup series.
World Cup Driving official website: www.worldcupdriving.com
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