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Christian Merli wins in Spain

Christian Merli tops the timesheet in all three race heats of the 49th Subida al Fito at Arriondas near Oviedo in northern Spain, the 2nd round of the European Hill Climb Championship. The driver from Trentino takes first place in his Osella FA 30 Zytek LRM and secures full points also in Group E2-SS, the single-seaters. A difficult race, with variable weather conditions marking the entire weekend. The track is 5.350 km long, very technical with a series of fast bends and a chicane to reduce the speed. The final section is in the forest, where there is often residual humidity. Three race heats, of which each driver’s best two make up the final classification.

Christian’s comments
“A difficult race with practice runs taking place in the rain. The touring car drivers cut the corners here and the track gets dirty. I’m happy with the Saturday practice. Unfortunately, the Team Faggioli left the box before the race because of health issues with one of their team members. The duel with my direct opponent couldn’t take place, and so I’m not entirely satisfied. I wish them a speedy resolution of the problem; this highlights once more the fragility of the current situation.”

Practice
It rains during the first official practice on Saturday. Faggioli finishes ahead of Merli. In the second practice run, the surface is humid, it is not raining, and the driver from Trentino comes in first, with Faggioli in his Norma 5”504 behind. Because of the very poor track conditions the drivers of the competition cars give the third practice run a miss.

The race
Merli wins the first race heat on Sunday. Big surprise when the screen does not display any time for Faggioli; as mentioned he was not admitted to the start because of health issues with a member of his team. In the second race heat the Scuderia Vimotorsport driver clocks again the best time in 2’48”167, with Villa Garcia from Spain in his BRC 3000 7”221 behind and French champion Petit in the Nova NP01 (ex Norma) 9”702 behind. The third race run follows at 3 pm, and because of the dirty and wet surface in the woods Merli opts for intermediate tyres. He also wins the third heat, with Petit from France 9”200 behind and local hero Villa Garcia 9”677 behind.

The classification on accumulated times
1st Merli (Osella FA 30 Zytek LRM), 2nd Villa Garcia (BRC 3000) 16”898 behind, 3rd Petit (Nova NP01) 18”902 behind.

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).

Ruth Scheithauer

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