Amazingly, Chardon also made it through two days of grueling competition with zero penalties over four rounds, the only driver in the event to do so.
Johan Jacobs of the Netherlands set the course that would prove the battle ground for seven Driving teams this weekend in France, where the FEI Driving World Cup™ Finals were the cap to a week of exciting horsemanship.
Jacobs built the Finals course two years ago in Gothenburg, as well as the London and Geneva qualifying legs of the current season.
With 12 obstacles spread over 740 metres, including a bridge, a speedbox, and two marathon box mazes, the track demanded precision without sacrificing pace.
At the end of two rounds of competition on Day 1, the leaderboard showed unexpected results: defending World Cup champion Exell was at the bottom of the standings on 305.71 seconds, and Chardon had a hefty lead over the field on 252.61 seconds.
Sadly for Exell, Day 1 say him accrue penalty points early on in the course, which was compounded by an error in the second round for which he picked up another 20 points.
With a change in scoring and first-round points carried over to the second day, even Exell’s tremendous speed at 126.41 seconds on Day 2 couldn’t put him in contention for a medal this time around.
Whilst the leaderboard on the final day of Driving changed with every single one of the last five teams, it was the three leaders heading into Day 2 that maintained their top spots to head to the drive off.
Up first, Glenn Geerts gave his second World Cup Finals a great effort, but the four-time Belgian champion got stuck for a few seconds at obstacle No. 4 on the first narrow, winding marathon segment and then knocked the last cone rounding the corner to the finish for a total time of 551.98 seconds.
De Ronde, who won the FEI Driving World Cup™ title in 2013, as well as the Budapest and Lepzig legs of this season, had a beautiful clear run through the drive off, for an overall time of 521.63 seconds.
Could he possibly stay in the lead?