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Christian Merli wins the first race heat in Croatia

At the wheel of his Osella FA 30 Zytek LRM Christian Merli wins the first race heat of the 40th Buzetski Dani hill climb in northern Istria in Croatia. The second heat is cancelled due to heavy rain. In an exhilarating performance, the Osella works driver finishes the first race heat in the rain more than six seconds ahead of Faggioli. In addition to the European championship title he also conquers that of Best Performer, having scored the highest number of top results in the 2021 season. The champion from Trentino has won four of the seven events this season, namely those in Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland and Croatia.

Christian’s comments
“I’m very happy to have won this race, even if the second run had to be cancelled because of the weather conditions. It was important to finish first today in order to fully earn the European championship, and we did it. I’d like to thank all those who have helped me achieve this – mechanics, sponsors, friends, family and my partner, and I dedicate this victory to Bortolina. It was tough today, because when we took the start for the first session it was raining but in the final part of the track the surface was merely humid. I’m fully satisfied, and the victory of the title is now complete.”

Croatia
The 2021 European champion was taking part in the final round of the European hill climb championship, the 40th Buzetski Dani in northern Istria. He had won this race in 2016 and 2017, setting the track record at 2’04”689. A 5 km hill climb with an initial mixed section and a right-hand hairpin half way through the track. Then another fast stretch followed by three hairpins left, right, left. A fork in the road in a residential area, after which the road narrows. A demanding bend and then the finish line.

Practice
Saturday morning sees Merli top the timesheet of the first practice run, 7”524 ahead of Diego Degasperi. In the afternoon, Merli is again first, in 2’07”160, with Faggioli in the Norma M20 FC 0”838 behind.

The race
Only one race heat on the Sunday morning, under the rain. Christian finishes 6”404 ahead of Faggioli.

The podium
1st Merli (Osella FA 30) in 2’27”312, 2nd Faggioli (Norma M20 FC) 6”403 behind, 3rd Petit (Nova NP01-2) 8”454 behind.

Ruth Scheithauer
Photos Erik Korijan

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