European accolades in Hill Climb for Faggioli and Muhvic
According to custom, the organisers of the events counting towards the FIA European Hill Climb Championship and their Alliance take turns to host its annual prize-giving. After Spain in 2011 and the Czech Republic in 2012, the host country this year was France, and the venue was the little town of Saint-Jean-du-Gard, already visited at the beginning of the season as the opening event of the Championship.
Welcomed by the local political authorities, and by the presidents of the ASA Alès, Samuel Tessier, the FFSA, Nicolas Deschaux, and the FIA Hill Climb Commission, Paul Gutjahr, the European "hill climbers" attended a reception given in their honour, ending with the traditional ceremony during which the trophies and prizes were awarded to the winners.
For Simone Faggioli, this type of ceremony holds no more secrets than do the roads of the Championship, which he knows by heart. The Italian, who has become a master in the art of hill climb, was at Saint-Jean-du-Gard to receive his fifth FIA European Hill Climb Champion trophy, after already winning the title in 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2013, he took part in 10 of the 13 rounds on the calendar, behind the wheel of his Osella FA30 with a Zytek engine. And he had the same number of wins. A perfect 10 out of 10 which, Faggioli admits, was harder than it looked. "Of course I'm very happy about this new title," he explained. "2013 was a very busy season, as I also took part in the Italian Championship." [which he also won]. "The competition was stronger than in previous years. The gaps were significantly smaller. On certain races, I really had to struggle to come out on top, which is an indication of the challenge to come next season: we will have to develop the car over the winter to face up to it. What I relish most from this season is winning Trento-Bondone. Emotionally, that particular win will really stand out in my memory. It is the most difficult event on the calendar, and Christian Merli put us under such pressure that over the entire 18 km of the course I was never able to relax my efforts. It was very intense. The German event at Glasbach was also a high point. This was a new event, with which most of the foreign competitors were unfamiliar. A fine course, offering an exceptional level of safety for a hill climb. There again, the competition was very close and Marcel Steiner made life difficult for me!"
After several seasons in Formula 3000, the Italian Fausto Bormolini had chosen to join Faggioli's team in 2013 and to hire an Osella PA30. Although unable to aim for outright victories, Bormolini notched up several places of honour and victories within Group E2/SC, earning him the title of Vice-Champion. Third on the final podium, the Czech Vladimir Vitver, like Bormolini, amassed numerous victories in his Group, E2/SH (for Silhouettes, which suits his ex-DTM Audi TT) to finish ahead of his compatriots Milos Benes (Osella FA30) and Otakar Kramsky (Reynard K13 F3000) in the final classification.
A second FIA European Hill Climb Championship title was awarded at Saint-Jean-du-Gard: that of the winner in Category 1, which brings together cars from Groups N, A, R and GT among others but which in fact is more like a Cup for Mitsubishi Lancers, sometimes in their Group N version, sometimes Group A. A young Croatian driver (who made his debut barely five years ago) and two times Champion of his country, Tomislav Muhvic this year saw out his first full European campaign. With four victories and as many second places in Group N, he made off with the title, ahead of the Czechs Jiri Los, Lukas Vojacek (first in Group A) and Jaromir Maly. "This European title gives me great satisfaction, at the end of such a long season. The highlight was the win at Rechberg, in Austria: not only because it was my first victory at this level, but also because my daughter was born the day before the event. It was a magic weekend. The other win that counted was of course the one I gained at the last event, at Buzet in Croatia. I was racing virtually at home, and that victory also handed me the title."