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Christian Merli returns to Europe and races in Germany

After the second round of practice runs in Colorado to prepare for the legendary Pikes Peak hill climb with the Wolf Aurobay Gb08 2.0 HP, Christian Merli has hopped on a plane from Denver to Frankfurt and from there on to Verona. He then went directly to his garage to put the final touches on his Osella FA 30 Judd LRM, and soon after he left for Bad Liebenstein in Thuringia in central Germany northeast of Frankfurt to race at the 26th Int. ADAC Glasbachrennen, the fifth round of the European hill climb championship.

A hectic period
“Indeed. We’re racing in Germany to keep the European championship open. It will be difficult, because my direct opponent Geoffrey Schatz with the Nova Proto NP01 is strong. I skipped the race in Ecce Homo, but the opportunity to compete in Colorado is unique, and it’s currently my priority. At Glasbach my goal is to take home maximum points in my group. On Monday I’m returning to the US from Frankfurt, and there are more practice runs scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. There is unfortunately a clash with the Trento – Bondone, and I’m really sorry, but the race in the US is a unique opportunity.”

The Colorado experience
“It’s incredible and it’s a dream come true. The start line is at an altitude of 2862 metres, and after 156 bends and hairpins on 19.900 km you finish at 4300 metres. We’ve taken part in two series of officials tests so far. However, the practice sessions are divided into three separate timed runs. You don’t get to do the whole track until the actual race. You get up very early in the morning, at around 2 am, to line up and enter the parc fermé. Then you practise on the first section of the track with your race car. The same process for the second section, and then the third, which is very fast and there is little downforce due to the thin air and a bumpy surface.

This impacts the setup and the engine and I suffer too. So far we’ve obtained the best time in the Unlimited group and are second overall behind Romain Dumas, who is racing in a Ford F150 Lightning Demonstrator 4x4 pickup with an electric engine capable of around 1500 hp. But I’m new to this, I’m a rookie as they say in the US. The car is new and the track is new for me too. The race is on 23 June and I’ll be doing my best.”

The track of the race in Germany
“Three practice and two race runs on a 5.500 km track. A beautiful track with very good safety. Not too fast, with no hairpins, and with 3rd and 4th gear bends following each other. A technically demanding mixed section and a chicane to reduce the speed.”

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 Int. 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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