Christian Merli at Limanowa in Poland
After taking second place in the rain at the 36th Dobšinský kopec hill climb in Slovakia, Christian Merli has driven the Team Blue City Motorsport truck to Limanowa southeast of Krakow in Poland. On Sunday, the reigning European champion will be lining up there in his Osella FA 30 Zytek LRM for the 11th edition of the Limanowa hill climb, the 9th of the 12 rounds of the European Hill Climb Championship. So far Merli has won in France, Austria, Portugal, Spain and the Czech Republic, establishing no less than four new track records on the hills across Europe. He finished 7th at the Trento–Bondone due to a quirky engine and 2nd in Slovakia, where rain set in when he was taking the start. In Poland, the Scuderia Vimotorsport driver has won the last three editions, and in 2018 he set a new track record at 1’51”938.
“We’ve had rain at many races this year. Let’s hope that the weather improves; we’ve got 15 degrees at the moment. Saturday starts with a free practice run to try out the car and the track. Then two official practice sessions and another free practice run. One more optional practice session on Sunday morning, followed by the race. Two heats on the 5.493 km track where we took the victory in the last three years. It starts with a slippery right-hand bend. In fact, the entire surface is slippery and bumpy. The track is fast with a couple of hairpins and a series of double bends to be taken in high gears.”
The European championship standings
As of now, Merli is leading the standings with 175 points, on a par with Faggioli. The European Hill Climb Championship points are awarded based on the group classifications, and so Merli is dominating Group E2-SS, the single-seaters, and Norma driver Faggioli Group E2-SC, the two-seater sports cars.
The European Hill Climb Championship calendar
14 April: Col Saint Pierre (France) winner Merli, 28 April: Rechbergrennen (Austria) winner Merli, 12 May: Rampa Internacional da Falperra (Portugal) winner Merli, 19 May: Subida al Fito (Spain) winner Merli, 2 June: Ecce Homo (Czech Republic) winner Merli, 16 June: Glasbachrennen (Germany) winner Lampert, 7 July: Trento–Bondone (Italy) winner Faggioli, 21 July: Dobšinský kopec (Slovakia) winner Faggioli, 28 July: Limanowa (Poland), 18 August: Course de Côte de Saint Ursanne (Switzerland), 1 September: Bistrica (Slovenia), 15 September: Buzetski Dani (Croatia).