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Rick Ebbinge Wins 2019 WDC

Published: May 31, 2019 12:02 am ET

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On the strength of two wins on the final day of competition, Rick Ebbinge of The Netherlands captured the 2019 World Driving Championship held in racetracks across Sweden between May 24 and 31.

Ebbinge, 35, has been a professional driver in The Netherlands for 15 years. This is his first World Driving Championship title and he's the first driver from The Netherlands to win the WDC. The win of the World Driving Championship comes with a $25,000 (USD) first-place prize.

With 199.5 points, Ebbinge fronted Yannick Gingras of the U.S. (193.5 points) with Sweden's Ulf Ohlsson (191.5 points) rounding out the top three.

"Happy with finishing second," said Gingras. "A couple of races went better than I expected. Going into the last race I was in sixth. I knew I had no shot of winning and I didn't even realize finishing second was an option."

Canada's Doug McNair came into the final leg of the tournament in second place but slipped to finish fourth overall.

"No luck in the last day at Sweden...it was a great experience and I was fortunate enough to get Driver of the Day twice," McNair told Trot Insider. "Hopefully I will get more than four hours of sleep tonight and back to Mohawk Park tomorrow.

"Thanks to everyone for the messages and support."

Defending World Driving Champion James MacDonald of Canada had a solid conclusion to the competition with three top-three finishes on the day (1-1-1) but had too much ground to make up and finished ninth overall.

"An amazing experience," said MacDonald. "Obviously I was hoping to do better. Now I have to earn my way into the next WDC! Our hosts were amazing, I got to see another country and we had a great time!"

The final leaderboard for the 2019 World Driving Championship is as follows.

1. Rick Ebbinge (The Netherlands) - 199.5 points
2. Yannick Gingras (U.S.A.) - 193.5
3. Ulf Ohlsson (Sweden) - 191.5
4. Doug McNair (Canada) - 189.5
5. Eirik Hoitomt (Norway) - 187
6. Matthew Williamson (New Zealand) - 181.5
7. Mika Forss (Finland) - 177
8. Franck Nivard (France) - 162
9. James MacDonald (Canada/ITA) - 154
10. Michael Nimczyk (Germany) - 151.5
11. Rodney Gatt (Malta) - 142
12. Todd McCarthy (Australia) - 136

Here's a breakdown of the five races from Gävle.

Race 5: Yannick Gingras closed out the 2019 World Driving Championship with a strong performance aboard the favoured Vine Vision in a race full of drama.

Gingras sat chilly on the outside in first-over striking distance of Niklas M.J. (Ulf Ohlsson; Sweden) with Kimbee Crown (Doug McNair; Canada) second over and Gilbert Bris (Rick Ebbinge; The Netherlands) on McNair's helmet.

Peak Fear (Todd McCarthy; Australia) looped the outer flow horses to pressure the leader and put Vine Vision second over. Gingras then launched Vine Vision three-wide and cleared to the lead with Niklas M.J. shuffled back to third after being fronted by Peak Fear. McNair then lost Kimbee Crown, who made a break, to dash all hopes of a championship title.

Turning for home, Niklas M.J. also broke stride to take Ohlsson out of contention as Vine Vision powered away to victory. Definitif Launcher (Michael Nimczyk; Germany) finished second with Saga Doc (James MacDonald; Canada) closing strongly for third.

Race 4: Canada's James MacDonald was favoured in the fourth WDC race of the day with Desideria de Soze and the public choice delivered a solid performance.

Desideria de Soze and MacDonald sat to the outside of temposetter Lingbo Eivor (Mika Forss; Finland) in the 1,640 metre event and pulled away in the stretch to win confidently. Pocket-sitting Katinka (Matthew Williamson; New Zealand) shook loose late to pick off Lingbo Eivor and nabbed the runner-up spot.

Keepondoinit broke stride for Canada's Doug McNair leaving for position and was disqualified.

There was a delay before the fourth leg as My Angel Laday (slated to be driven by France's Franck Nivard) got loose on the track and had to be scratched. Nivard was able to escape injury.

Race 3: Edbest was the best in the third leg of the 2019 World Driving Championship, floating to the lead early in the 2,640 metre event and repelling all challengers en route to an open-length victory. Finishing second was Aasbrand (James MacDonald; Canada) with Kolar Vicken (Eirik Höitomt; Norway) flying late for third. Canada's Doug McNair couldn't keep Sländan on gait and was disqualified for a prolonged gallop.

Williamson was complimentary of the host country after the victory, calling the experience "the trip of a lifetime."

Race 2: The second race in the final leg of the 2019 World Driving Championship shifted to the coldblooded trotters, but the end result was the same as driver Rick Ebbinge of The Netherlands picked up his second win of the day to vault him up the standings and into the lead with three legs to go.

Ebbinge steered Pyrmo to victory in the 2,640 metre event, wearing down Nordby Kuling (Franck Nivard; France) in the stretch to win by two lengths. Hägern T.H. (Eirik Höitomt; Norway) held off Björlifix (Mika Forss; Finland) for show.

"I was surprised this horse could win, but he felt good and I think the distance helped him," said Ebbinge after his second win of the day.

Race 1: Favoured Jackpot Band and driver Rick Ebbinge of The Netherlands won as expected in the first race of the final leg of the 2019 World Driving Championship in Gävle, Sweden.

Ebbinge immediately sent Jackport Band to the front in the 2,140 metre event and never looked back, winning by a length and a half over pocket-sitting First Mel Hope (Doug McNair; Canada) and first-over stalking Chimbai (Yannick Gingras; USA).

The second-place finish for McNair gives him the lead in the 2019 World Driving Championship with four legs left.

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