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Christian Merli racing at Pikes Peak in Colorado on Sunday

After the race in Germany Christian Merli immediately left from Frankfurt for Denver/Colorado in the US. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday he performed the last few tests in view of the 102nd edition of the legendary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb behind the wheel of the Wolf Aurobay Gb08 2.0 Hp. On early Sunday afternoon central European time, drivers will start lining up for the incredible track, which starts at an altitude of 2862 metres and, after 19.900 km, finishes at 4300 metres. There are 156 corners and hairpin bends and the altitude difference is 1439 metres.

This is the “Race to the Clouds”, where the weather can change from one moment to the next; fog, ice and snow are always looming. An official mission for the Italian team led by Giovanni Bellarosa and backed by none other than Aurobay. The purpose-built Wolf prototype, which is racing in the Unlimited category, is fitted with a two-litre supercharged engine capable of producing 380 hp and will see five-times European champion Merli at the wheel.

A dream come true
“The race is almost here, and we’re happy so far. We’ve obtained the best time in the Unlimited category, and we’re second overall behind Romain Dumas from France, who is here for the ninth time and holds the current track record of 7’57”148, established in 2018 with an electric Volkswagen prototype. The electric engine is not affected by the altitude. This year Dumas is racing a Ford F-150 Lightning SuperTruck 4x4 with an electric engine capable of 1500 hp. Practice has taken place in three sections, and Sunday will be the only day where we do the entire track. The weather is bizarre; yesterday’s practice was suspended due to rain, and today the second section could not be tackled because rain and snow precluded the start. On Sunday evening, if the weather permits, I should have concluded this fascinating trip. For now I can truthfully say that we’ve grown in terms of both performance and setup. The final stretch up to the summit is very bumpy. A difficult hill climb, but the objective is to make it safely past the two chequered flags.”

The team
“I’m delighted that Wolf Racing Cars and Aurobay have come to me for this extraordinary race. I have a team of excellent professionals at my side.”

Merli’s first race in America
“I’m a Rookie here, it’s my first time on the US track, and so I have to take part in all training sessions. This mountain is extraordinary and very beautiful. The race track starts with a very fast flat section, then there is a slight descent followed by a series of tight hairpin bends and a flat final part at altitude. On the side of the road there are still metres of snow and the surface is quite bumpy.”

The Wolf Aurobay Gb08 2.0 Hp project
"We started with a cautious run-in and were quite satisfied with the initial contact. Then we grew and adapted to both the altitude and the car, which suffers up there. Cooling the engine and the brakes becomes difficult in the thin air. The aerodynamics is also severely impacted. Everything is under stress. As I said, we are working with a fantastic team to optimise the whole.”

Translation by Ruth Scheithauer

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