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Christian Merli wins the FIA Masters in Portugal

Christian Merli in his Osella FA 30 Zytek LRM wins the FIA Hill Climb Masters 2021 in Braga in northern Portugal. Three race heats, and a brilliant Christian secures victory with a perfect performance in the second run.

Christian’s comments
“I wasn’t expecting this, considering the competition. Faggioli is always very fast, and Schatz has demonstrated what he and his car can do. I accomplished what I could call a perfect second run. I won the Masters in that heat. In the third heat, on a colder surface, I made a few mistakes. I’m in seventh heaven. I absolutely wanted to do well, and I dedicate this victory to all my sponsors, technical and otherwise, who’ve allowed me to achieve this result.”

The FIA Hill Climb Masters
This event, organised by the International Automobile Federation (FIA), takes place every two years and brings together the best drivers from 18 European countries. Team Italy was captained by Fiorenzo Dalmeri, head of the ACI Sport delegation, who referred to the event as the “Olympics” of European hill climb. It was held on a very fast track, the first 2.970 km of the 5.200 km long Rampa de Falperra.

It is warm and sunny for the first official practice run, and Faggioli in his Norma M20 FC tops the timesheet 0”653 ahead of Geoffrey Schatz from France in his 1750 turbocharged Nova NP01 Oreca. Christian Merli in his Osella FA 30 Zytek LRM finishes 28th due to a spin in a hairpin. In the second practice run Schatz finishes first, followed by Merli and Faggioli.

The race
In the first race heat on Sunday Schatz finishes first, followed by the new European champion Merli 0”233 behind, who in turn is 0”174 ahead of Faggioli. In the second race heat in the early afternoon Christian clocks a breathtaking 1’02”033, with Faggioli 0”879 behind. Schatz does very well in the third race heat, finishing ahead of Faggioli and Merli. The overall victory goes to Merli.

The podium of the FIA Masters
1st Merli (Osella FA 30 Zytek LRM), 2nd Schatz (Nova NP01-2 Oreca) 0”359 behind, 3rd Faggioli (Norma M20 FC) 0”617 behind.

Ruth Scheithauer

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