Heading for the Italian summitsIn the European hill-climb news, all eyes are on Italy for the next three weeks, with the Coppa Paolino Teodori at Ascoli (29-30 June), followed by Trento-Bondone (6-7 July) and then Cesana-Sestriere (13-14 July).
With its drivers, manufacturers and courses, Italy is a great hill-climb nation. Next to that of France, its national championship is the most fiercely contested of the continent. It also supplies the drivers which have left the greatest mark on the European Hill-Climb Championship. The 1970s and 1980s saw Mauro Nesti outstrip the rest, nine times triumphant, while the 21st century has been dominated by Simone Faggioli, already five-time European Champion and well placed to take a sixth victory, with five wins under his belt out of five races this season.
The Coppa Paolino Teodori will be contested on 29 and 30 June in Ascoli. This event is returning to the European fold. In the past, it has been in the European Championship on several occasions – the first in 1976. The addition of a new course in a championship can sometimes lead to a levelling of the playing field between the protagonists, the youngest no longer necessarily starting at a disadvantage in racing on a course for the first time against the more experienced drivers. This will perhaps be true at the end of July, during the German Glasbach event, but it certainly won’t be the case this weekend on the road between the Col San Marco and the Col San Giacomo: the name Faggioli already features seven times in the list of winners for this event… And for non-Italian drivers, the task will be even more exacting than usual, since they will also have to face several formidable locals, who never or rarely leave their territory, like the young Domenico Scola Jr, Denny Zardo, Francesco Leogrande or Christian Merli.
To see the route map and guide of the Coppa Teodori event, click here.
A week later, the majority of the paddock at Ascoli in the Abruzzi will move camp to the Lake Garda region for the famous Trento-Bondone. At 17.3 km in length, featuring forty-odd hairpin bends and an elevation of 1350 m, Trento-Bondone is by far the toughest event in the FIA European Hill-Climb Championship. Despite being the slowest (“a mere” 110 kph on average), it is by far the longest and the most challenging. Created in 1925 and on the programme of the European Championship since 1958, the event has, over its lifetime, seen Porsche, Ferrari and Abarth battle it out for victory and enter drivers having also competed in Formula 1, such as Ludovico Scarfiotti, Edgard Barth and Wolfgang von Trips. As well as counting towards the FIA European Hill-Climb Championship for modern cars, Trento-Bondone is a round in the FIA Historic Hill-Climb Championship.
To see the route map and guide of the Trento-Bondone event, click here.
The competitors of the latter will have the opportunity to stay on for an additional week in Italy to contest a true classic in the hill-climb discipline, between Cesana and Sestriere – which are also famous skiing spots, notably having played host to the Winter Olympics in 2006. Like Trento-Bondone, the Cesana-Sestriere event has an illustrious past, having seen the likes of Rolf Stommelen (winner in 1967), Arturio Merzario (winner in 1970), Ludovico Scarfiotti (winner in both 1965 and 1966), Edgard Barth (winner in 1963 and 1964) and Mauro Nesti (nine-time winner, between 1972 and 1989). Organised by the Automobile Club Torino, the event has not had an uninterrupted past, having stopped between 1974 and 1980, then after 1992. But in 2007, it was brought back as a sporting commemorative event and now counts toward the FIA Historic Hill-Climb Championship and the Italian Championship of the discipline. Its 10.4 km course begins at Cesana Torinese and ends in the Sestriere resort at over 2000 m altitude.
To see the route map and guide of the Cesana-Sestriere event, click here.