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Triumph for Christian Merli in Austria

In his Osella FA 30 Judd LRM Christian Merli won the 53rd Esthofen – St. Agatha hill climb near Linz in Austria, the penultimate round of the Austrian and German championships, to which he had been invited. There were two race runs on the 3.210 km track – a very fast track, in fact, with only two bends in third gear, and a mixed section to be taken in high gears. The 2023 European champion raced the FA 30 in thirteen events this year and won at all of them. He has dominated at Esthofen in 2016, 2017, 2021, 2022 and this year.

Thirteen victories with the Osella FA 30 in 2023
“At all events where we were racing our 3-litre single-seater we took the victory. The result of a great effort and teamwork. The practice runs on Saturday went well, with Steiner from Switzerland always close behind. He has improved a lot, as you can see from his times. In the first race run I gave it my all, but I made a slight mistake. On such a short and fast track as here, you take any errors to the finish line. I’d hoped to do better in the second run. The weather was on our side. Cold, cloudy sky, but no rain. A fantastic welcome. There were lots of fans at the track, and they were cheering like in a stadium. The organisation was just fantastic too.”

The first practice run on Saturday takes place on a humid surface and at low temperatures, to the point that marshals and spectators are wearing jackets. Merli finishes in 1’05”214. Steiner from Switzerland (LobArt Honda) is 1”948 behind, Zajelsnik from Slovenia (Norma M20 FC) 4”000. The crowd cheer Christian on when he takes the start for the second practice run, and he rewards them with an average speed of 180.530 km/h. Steiner, Zajelsnik, Hin and Lampert are behind him.

In the third practice run on the Sunday morning the ranking remains the same. The sky is cloudy, and it is cold. In the first race run the champion from Trentino is fastest, 0”592 ahead of Steiner. Alexander Hin from Germany is third, in the Osella FA 30 taken care of by Team Merli. The second race run follows in the afternoon. The Scuderia Vimotorsport driver reaches an average of 185 km/h. Steiner, who is racing in a “free” prototype without the FIA restrictions, ie with about 80 hp more, is 0”587 behind him. Zajelsnik and Hin follow.

The Austrian podium on accumulated times
1st Merli (Osella FA 30 Judd LRM), 2nd Steiner (LobArt Honda) 1”179 behind, 3rd Zajelsnik (Norma M20 FC) 6”158 behind.

Translation by Ruth Scheithauer

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