Christian Merli starting at the Rampa de Boticas in Portugal
The Rampa de Boticas marks the start of the European Hill Climb Championship season. It is held east of Porto in northern Portugal, near the Spanish border. The 5.110 km long track will see three official practice runs and three race heats, with each driver’s two best times being added up for the final classification and the slowest time discarded. Boticas is hosting its first European championship race. The current track record of 2’11”997 was established by Pedro Salvador in a closed car, the Silver Car EF 10, in 2017.
Christian Merli, reigning European champion, will be racing his Osella FA 30 LRM Zytek here for the first time, after more than 2000 km of travel.
“We used to race in Falperra until 2019, and now we’re going to Boticas. The track is new to all of us, and I’ve seen only an onboard video, because we’ve been busy getting our car ready until the last minute. I hope to get there early to have some time for reccing the track. It seems to be fast with few reference points. We are hoping for good weather; for now they’re forecasting rain on the day of the race.”
Next: the Subida al Fito in Spain
“After the event in Portugal we immediately travel about 450 km to the Fito in Asturia in northern Spain, where the second championship round is scheduled to be held on 16 May. We won there in 2018 and set a new track record at 2’25”425.The Fito track is 5.350 km long. There will be three practice runs on the Saturday, then a warm-up on the Sunday morning, followed by the two race heats. The track is very technical with a series of fast bends, a chicane to reduce the speed, and then the final section in the forest, where there is often residual humidity. I like this race, and we’re obviously counting on the weather.”
The European Hill Climb Championship calendar
9 May: 54th Rampa de Boticas (Portugal), 16 May: 49th Subida al Fito (Spain), 30 May: 40th Ecce Homo Sternberk (Czech Republic), 27 June: 60th Coppa Paolino Teodori (Italy), 18 July: 37th Dobšinský kopec (Slovakia), 25 July: 12th Hill Climb Limanowa (Poland), 15 August: 77th Course de Côte de Saint Ursanne (Switzerland), 29 August: 27th GHD Ilirska Bistrica (Slovenia), 19 September: 40th Buzetski Dani (Croatia).