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Christian Merli is European champion 2022

Christian Merli in his Osella FA 30 Judd LRM has won the penultimate round of the European championship 2022, the 28th Ilirska Bistrica hill climb in Slovenia, thus securing the eighth win in as many events. The Scuderia Vimotorsport driver has won all the races so far – France, Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and now Slovenia – and is now overall European champion 2022. It is his fourth European title: Merli 2018, 2019, 2021 and this year.

The most exciting season
“Definitely the first one, when we won the European and Italian championships and the FIA Masters. We’d been pursuing a title for a long time and then we made it. It was definitely exciting and I said at the time that I’d have preferred spreading the victories and titles over the following years. In 2018 we took it all, but the following years were fantastic too. Victory in the European championship the year after, then the difficult Covid times, and last year the European title and the FIA Masters. This season we’ve been dominating all the events. The race here in Slovenia was a difficult one. In the first run we set a good time in the dry, but the intermittent rain and wet surface forced us to be more cautious in the second. Obviously I’m very happy, and I’d like to thank Cinzia, Giuliano, my family, all the sponsors and also the Scuderia Vimotorsport, Osella, Avon and the Petriglieri brothers, who prepared my Judd engine.”

In the first official practice run Christian Merli tops the timesheet 5”893 ahead of Petr Trnka from Czechia (Norma M20 FC) and 10”398 ahead of the French champion Sébastien Petit (Nova NP1). In the second practice session in the early afternoon the champion from Trentino takes the best time on the 5.010 km track, with Petit 4”976 behind and Trnka 5”207 behind.

The race
The first race heat, in the sun, sees Merli finish first, 4”981 ahead of Petit and 5”237 ahead of Trnka. In the second session in the afternoon the skies open, and the drivers go up the hill with caution. Rain, wind, sun and again rain follow each other. Wet race. Despite the weather, Merli secures the win in the second run too, leaving Trnka and Petit behind. He is European champion 2022.

The podium on accumulated times
1st Merli (Osella FA 30 Judd LRM), 2nd Trnka (Norma M20 FC) 14”118 behind, 3rd Petit (Nova NP 01) 16”431 behind.

The European Hill Climb Championship calendar
4 September: 28th GHD Ilirska Bistrica (Slovenia), 18 September: 41st Buzetski Dani (Croatia).

Translation by Ruth Scheithauer

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