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Christian Merli at the FIA Masters in Portugal

Christian Merli will be one of the 23 Italian drivers at the FIA Hill Climb Masters in Braga (Portugal) on 10 October. This event takes place every two years and brings together the 158 best drivers from 18 European countries. The Italian team will be captained by Fiorenzo Dalmeri, president of the Trento Automobile Club and head of the ACI Sport delegation. The “Olympics” of European hill climb are organised by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) on the first three kilometres of the Rampa de Falperra in the very north of Portugal. The schedule comprises three race heats, and each driver’s fastest time in a single heat will decide the ranking.

The track in Merli’s words
“I won the Masters at Gubbio in Italy in 2018, and in 2019 we dominated the Falperra round of the European championship. This time the track is 2.970 km long instead of the usual 5.200, and it’s definitely fast. The start, a straight stretch and a fast left-hand bend to be taken in 4th gear. Another fast section and a right-hand corner in 3rd gear, then a straight going upward, followed by a series of very fast double bends. Braking hard for a left-hand hairpin, then a very fast mixed section and a wide chicane. Between the two straights there’s a left-hand bend to be taken at full throttle. Then a double bend in 6th gear, almost at full throttle, and finally the finish line. Our main goal is the team victory, but usually once you’ve closed your visor you go for a maximum result individually. It won’t be easy, because some countries allow free engines with higher cylinder capacity or turbocharger. Opponents are strong, for example Geoffrey Schatz from France with his 1750 turbocharged Nova NP01. I’m sure it’s going to be a great race.”

Ruth Scheithauer

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