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Victory for Christian Merli at Falperra/Portugal

Christian Merli in his Osella FA 30 Judd LRM has taken overall victory at the 43rd Rampa Internacional da Falperra near Braga in northern Portugal, the 3rd round of the European Hill Climb Championship.

The first victory in 2024
“We’ve bagged our first victory in 2024. I’m exhausted but happy. I have to work on my car some more, because I haven’t been able to reach last year’s times. A nerve-racking race with long waits between runs. When we finished the last run it was almost 8pm. Practice in Saturday took place in the wet.

In the first race run we were 1”237 behind Schatz. The second run went better; we were 1”023 ahead. The third race run was the decisive one; we achieved a good time and won.

The organisation? I don’t know what to say. They prioritised the Portuguese championship, and the European championship drivers were relegated to the role of extras. Six hours of wait between the first two race runs. It was a shame about the starting order, and the fact that the paddock is at the finish of the race makes our work and that of the clerk of the course a lot more complicated. I’ve been asking for two years that this should be changed. Unfortunately in vain. In the other rounds of the European championship we get better visibility and priority. It’s a shame, because the track is great, the crowd is fantastic and warm-hearted, and the organisers put up stands and large screens where you can follow the entire race. I’m now leaving out Ecce Homo, even if it’s a race I like very much, to go to Colorado/USA for the first few test days of the Pikes Peak hill climb with the Wolf Aurobay Gb08 2.0 HP. It’s an incredible track, which starts at an altitude of 2862 metres and, after 19.900 km, finishes at 4300 metres. The week after there will be more recce in a road car, then from 7 to 9 June more tests with the new sports racer.”

The weekend in Portugal
On Saturday, in the rain, Merli goes up cautiously and finishes 15th in a timesheet distorted by the bad weather. After a long interruption a second practice run takes place on a wet surface. Iraola Lanzagorta (Nova NP01) takes the best time, followed by Kevin Petit (Revolt). Christian is third. On Sunday it is sunny and in the first race run on the 5.200 km track Geoffrey Schatz (Nova Proto NP01 Turbo) clocks the fastest time, followed by Christian Merli (Osella FA 30 Judd LRM). In the second run in the afternoon Christian takes over. There are three race runs, of which the best two make up the final classification. In the third run the driver from Trentino is again first, followed by Starck from Belgium (Nova Proto 01-2) and Kevin Petit (Revolt 3P0). Schatz is sixth. Based on the two best times, the reigning European champion wins at Falperra 2”015 ahead of Schatz and 7”126 ahead of Starck.

The 2024 European Hill Climb Championship calendar
28 April: Rechbergrennen (Austria), 12 May: 52nd Subida al Fito (Spain), 19 May: 43rd Rampa Internacional da Falperra (Portugal), 2 June: 43rd Ecce Homo Sternberk (Czech Republic), 16 June: 26th ADAC Glasbachrennen (Germany) 14 July: 53rd Trofeo Vallecamonica (Italy), 28 July: 15th Hill Climb Limanowa (Poland), 18 August: 79th Course de Côte de Saint-Ursanne (Switzerland), 1 September: 30th GHD Ilirska Bistrica (Slovenia), 15 September: 43rd Buzetski dani (Croatia).

Translation by Ruth Scheithauer

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