Five out of five. After France, Austria, Portugal and Spain, Christian Merli conquers the top step of the podium at the 5th round of the European Hill Climb Championship, the “Ecce Homo” hill climb in Šternberk, north of Brno in the Czech Republic. An ultrafast track of 7.800 km. The Osella works driver in his FA 30 also sets a new track record of 2’39”93.
Christian, the fifth win and the fourth track record this season
“I’m very satisfied. I wouldn’t have dreamt that I’d be able to set this record. It’s the result of our teamwork. It has been an extremely long day. In practice, we worked some more on the set up, but today in the first race heat it was very hot and the track was dirty towards the finish. In the second heat I pushed as hard as I could, and we improved. A beautiful race, well organised. What can I say? I’m happy.”
In the first practice session the Team Blue City Motorsport leader sees the clocks stop at 2’44”62, 3”28 ahead of Faggioli, followed by Diego Degasperi with his FA 30. In the second session Merli finishes below his 2018 track record, in 2’40”81. Faggioli with his Norma is second, Degasperi third.
Race heat 1
At the start of the first heat the weather is sunny and warm. Then there is a long interruption due to an oil spill on the track following the engine breakdown of Jiri Špalek’s Norma M20. The last 15 drivers return to the paddock, and the historic cars start their second run, waiting for the track to get clean. The surface is still treacherous when the big players take the start, and it is for Christian Merli in his Avon-shod Osella FA 30 Zytek LRM to clock the best time, 2’42”29. Faggioli in his Norma is second, 4”49 behind, and Diego Degasperi, with an FA 30 on Pirelli tyres, is third, 6”91 behind.
Race heat 2
Merli wins establishing a new track record at an incredible 2’39”93. Simone Faggioli follows 5”38 behind; the third overall rank goes to Diego Degasperi.
The podium on accumulated times
1st Merli (Osella FA 30 Zytek LRM) in 5’22”22, 2nd Faggioli (Norma M20 FC) 9”11 behind, 3rd Degasperi (Osella FA 30) 16”15 behind.
The European Hill Climb Championship calendar
14 April: Col Saint Pierre (France), 28 April: Rechbergrennen (Austria), 12 May: Rampa Internacional da Falperra (Portugal), 19 May: Subida al Fito (Spain), 2 June: Ecce Homo (Czech Republic), 16 June: Glasbachrennen (Germany), 7 July: Trento – Bondone (Italy), 21 July: Dobsinsky Kopec (Slovakia ), 28 July: Limanowa (Poland), 18 August: Course de Côte de Saint Ursanne (Switzerland), 1 September: Bistrica (Slovenia), 15 September: Buzetski Dani (Croatia).