Christian Merli has taken his decision: He will seek to defend his 2018 title and take part in the European Hill Climb Championship 2019 at the wheel of his Osella FA 30 Zytek, again supported by LRM of the Petriglieri brothers for engine tuning and by Avon for tyres. Last year’s season, with its 15 victories in 20 races, was a unique one for the Osella works driver. He won the European Hill Climb Championship, the Italian hill climb championship, the FIA Masters at Gubbio and the Trento – Bondone. Christian was the first Trentino driver to conquer the European title. 6 victories in 11 races, Austria, Spain, Germany, Italy, Slovakia and Poland, not to mention the 8 new track records. With the European crown secured, he immediately switched over to the Italian hill climb championship, where he won the test race at Salita del Costo as well as 7 championship rounds out of 12, Verzegnis, Ascoli, Trento – Bondone, Sarnano, Erice, Coppa Nissena and Luzzi, breaking four more track records. To end his hill climb season, Merli brilliantly outshone his opponents winning all three runs at the FIA Masters at Gubbio, the hill climb olympics with 170 drivers from 22 countries. Finally, the icing on the cake arrived at the Prealpi Master Show, a rally in which Merli participated in a Skoda Fabia R5. He had never tested the car before, and he had a new co-driver, Anna Tomasi. They finished third overall.
Christian, what a fantastic season
“Indeed, and I still can’t quite believe it. I would have preferred one title per year, that way I’d have been set for the next few seasons. You know, our result at the Prealpi Master Show made more headlines than the other victories.”
The award ceremonies
“At Saint-Ursanne in Switzerland for the European title, at the Garage Italia in Milan for the Casco d’Oro Autosprint and the Volante d’Argento Aci, and in Fiavè, where I live.”
Why will 2018 remain unique?
“In 2019 there are seven scheduling clashes between the European Hill Climb Championship and the Italian championship. In all these years there have never been so many clashes at the beginning of the season. What is more, the next FIA Masters won’t be until 2020. So we have decided to go for the European championship, and on our team there will also be the very sound Austrian driver Christoph Lampert with the Osella FA 30. I would like to thank the new Blue City owner Simone Romagna and Daniele Sontacchi, who will continue to support us. We also appreciate very much having Enzo Osella and Avon follow us closely, as well as the help from all our sponsors. We are currently working on getting our Osella FA 30 ready. It’s a demanding period, with very intense days until deep into the night.”
Season opener at Costo on 7 April
“All the big players will be there to test the changes they have made to their cars ahead of the European or Italian championships. A single race run of 9,910 km with ten hairpins, starting in Cogollo del Cengio and finishing in Bramonte.”
“The first round of the European championship is the 47th Col St. Pierre in France on 14 April. It will not be easy, because the opposition will be fierce. In particular, Simone Faggioli, who will be more focused than ever.”