German Drivers dominate FEI World Single Driving Championships at Piber, Austria
By Cindy Timmer
Single Driving Championships: After four days of top-level sport, which culminated in an exciting finale in the obstacle driving competition, Germany’s Dieter Lauterbach won the individual gold medal at the FEI World Single Driving Championships in Piber, Austria, ahead of Weronika Kwiatek from Poland and Dutch driver Saskia Siebers. The German team won the Nations competition, Poland took home the silver medal and Switzerland claimed bronze.
After the first horse inspection, 75 horses from 23 nations started in the dressage of the ninth edition of the FEI World Single Driving Championships at the Lipizzaner Stud Farm in Piber-Köflach, Austria.
The first half of the competitors’ field drove their dressage test in great weather in the sand arena in Piber and USA’s Suzy Stafford took the provisional lead after the first day with her Morgan horse Peace of Mind. She was beaten on the second day by 2014 bronze medallist Marlen Fallak from Germany, whose scored 0,64 points better with her horse Tessa FST.
Third place went to Luxemburg with Franz Schiltz driving his horse Frodo, who won the gold medal in the FEI World Championships for Young Driving Horses in 2015. It was bad luck though for title defender Wilbrord van den Broek from the Netherlands who was eliminated after dressage because of an old mouth injury on his 20-year-old horse Oscar.
The second dressage day was hampered with heavy rain showers and the competition was stopped for around two hours in the afternoon to allow the arena to dry sufficiently for the remaining three drivers to complete their tests.
Polish family affair in the marathon
Due to the heavy rain on Friday, it was decided on Saturday morning to remove one obstacle from the competition, however the marathon in the hills around Piber was still very challenging and demanded a good condition from the horses, especially when the sun came out during the day.
Weronika Kwiatek won the marathon with her 12-year old Hessen gelding Bartnik ahead of her brother Bartlomiej, with World Championship debutant Stefan Ulrich from Switzerland driving his Pamino U to the third place. The 18-year-old Ulrich was assisted on the carriage by his father, international successful four-in-hand driver Werner Ulrich.
Dieter Lauterbach finished fourth, which took him into the lead in the individual standings. His advantage over Weronika Kwiatek however was only 0,2 penalty points with the other competitors all lying very close to each other, which meant nothing was certain at this stage in the competition and all was set for an exciting finale.
At this stage, Germany were leading in the nations competition with a 5 points advantage over Poland and France, but with Switzerland also close behind.
The USA’s Suzy Stafford, in second position after dressage, was unfortunately eliminated in obstacle three after she took a wrong gate.
The cones course, designed by World Championship course designer Gábor Fintha from Hungary, was challenging but achievable, which was demonstrated by the nine clear rounds and resulted in a wonderful end of the Championship, which took place in near to perfect conditions.
World Championship debutant Saskia Siebers drove a clear round to take bronze. Winning the bronze medal came as a complete surprise for her: “This was my first World Championship as a competitor and I did not know what to expect. I had hoped for a top-ten placing, but this is fantastic!”
Marathon winner Weronika Kwiatek collected time penalties in the obstacle driving competition, but this did not endanger her silver medal: “I won the marathon here last year and again this year. The heavy terrain suits my horse Bartnik, he has a very good condition and a lot of power.”
Dieter Lauterbach won the golden medal, with no knockdowns and only a little over one penalty point for exceeding the time allowed: “This has been a wonderful event with fair sport and a great atmosphere. I have won already several medals, but to win individual gold is yet again something special.”
In the nations competition the Germans were unbeatable as well this time and in the end they had a comfortable advantage to Poland. Switzerland won bronze with just a 0,41 penalty point advantage over France.
Piber will go into the history books as a very successful World Championship, which offered an excellent venue for driving sport at the highest level.
Full results available here
Individual results FEI World Single Driving Championship Piber 2016:
- Dieter Lauterbach (GER) 137,50
- Weronika Kwiatek (POL) 139,68
- Saskia Siebers (NED) 141,36
Team results FEI World Single Driving Championship Piber 2016:
- Germany 270,39
- Poland 281,65
- Switzerland 283,70
Re-watch the action on the FEI YouTube Channel