Faggioli calls the shots

On home ground, between St Ursanne and Les Rangiers, the three Swiss drivers Volluz, Ducommun and Steiner were powerless to stop Simone Faggioli.

Five times European Champion, on his way to a sixth title, could Italian Simone Faggioli (Osella FA30) be unbeatable? His opponents might start to think so, even if they have not given up the fight. Competing at home, the three Swiss drivers in similar Osellas to that of the Italian Champion had to accept defeat, which they did most gracefully and sportingly. Determined to beat Faggioli and overly optimistic, Marcel Steiner had the biggest scare of his career when he lost control of his prototype on a very fast section of the course. The debris from his car scattered across the road stopped Faggioli in his tracks. Having been disrupted in his exercise, the Italian was authorised to return to the foot of the mountain to start the climb again. Not phased in the slightest by the mishap of his rival, who fortunately came away unscathed from his mad dash, Faggioli did not stop at achieving the best time in his re-run. Not only did he beat the absolute record for the course – which he had set previously – he also broke the symbolic barrier of 180 kph average speed, all seemingly effortlessly, driving with composure, flair and great skill.

Young drivers Joël Volluz and Julien Ducommun gave their all in front of their public and supporters, but when the times were displayed, they found that their experience in driving the car was still lacking, particularly on such a fast course. The aerodynamics of the Osella FA30 creates tremendous suction that is difficult to gauge, particularly in a discipline like hill climb, where running is limited. Although they were unable to beat Faggioli, the two Swiss hopefuls did manage to prevent him from resting on his laurels. Their first season at this level and with such fast cars remains very impressive.

Taken with this course which includes (very) high speeds, David Hauser, the young driver from Luxembourg, largely contributed to the quality of the show throughout the event, so much so that he managed to get in between the “Swiss” Osellas to win a place on the podium. Hearing the engine of his Dallara GP2 resonate, roar even, though the streets of the medieval village of St Ursanne and then fade into the forest and mountains towards Les Rangiers was as anachronistic as it was enchanting and magical − a truly thrilling sensation for the spectators.

Behind the untouchable quartet in the lead, Italian Fausto Bormolini (Osella PA30) took fifth place and came in first among the cars of Group E2-SC, the two-seater prototypes, thus consolidating his provisional second place in the FIA European Hill Climb Championship. In his first climb at St Ursanne, the young Geoffrey Schatz (Norma M20FC Honda) clearly dominated Group CN and achieved a commendable seventh place between the F3000s of Swiss driver Simon Hugentobler and Tommy Rollinger from Luxembourg.

In tenth place, Swiss driver Jean-Marc Salomon triumphed among the single-seaters under two litres, which include Formula Masters, F3s and Formula Renaults. In the end, he was a few tenths of a second ahead of Damien Berney from France and Christian Balmer from Switzerland.

As for the closed cars competing in the European Championship, Czech Jaromir Maly managed to put his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo8 Group A in front of the GTs of Romain Thiessen from Luxembourg (Porsche 997 GT3R) and Nicolas Bührer from Switzerland (Porsche 911 GT3RS). Second in Group A, Czech Lukas Vojacek (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo8) continues to lead the provisional general classification, with only two events remaining (Ilirska Bistrica in Slovenia and Buzet in Croatia). Ineligible for the European Championship, the Porsche 997 GT of Nicolas Werver and the Lancia Delta S4 Group B of Bruno Ianniello made for a colourful – and loud – show in category E1. The modern German car came in a few tenths of a second ahead of the Italian car, which remains as spritely as ever at the ripe old age of 28.

To access the classification of the St Ursanne event, click here.