Buzetski dani offers a fitting finale to 2022 Hill Climb season | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

Buzetski dani offers a fitting finale to 2022 Hill Climb season

15.09.22

Category 2 champion Merli aims to win eight out of eight events in 2022

Category 1 title goes down to the wire between Group points leaders

Historic Hill Climb Championship to provide style and spectacle in their final battle

Newly-crowned champion in Category 2 of this year’s FIA European Hill Climb Championship, Christian Merli, hopes to sustain his 100% victory record at the final event of the season this weekend, the Buzetski dani, in Croatia.

Having claimed his fourth FIA EHC title in five years, with a run of success only interrupted in 2020 by the Covid pandemic, Merli can now relax and potentially add another chapter to the EHC history books by winning every event of the season.

Competing in the senior D/E2-SS category for open cars in his Osella FA 30, Merli faces a wealth of sports-prototype cars if he is to take victory at the classic Croatian event, which he won last year to seal the 2021 EHC crown. Meanwhile in Category 1 there are still all to play for in the overall title and among the different groups for production-based cars, classified by their performance.

Group 1 sees the two most successful men in the class, Italy’s Manuel Dondi and Austrian Karl Schagerl, return for one more fierce contest. Both Dondi’s small but phenomenally potent Fiat X1/9 and Schagerl’s might Volkswagen Golf Rallye are very capable of running with the fastest of the Group 2 sports-prototype machines and have both recorded top 10 finishes overall.

Dondi’s late start to the EHC season mean that Schagerl’s season-long success has kept him at the top of Group 1 and in the hunt for the overall Category 1 title. The current leader in the standings is Montenegro’s Vasilije Jaksic, the dominant points leader Group 4 in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.

A poor finish for Jaksic earlier this month in Slovenia’s Ilirska Bistrica hill climb have seen Schagerl and Group 3 points leader Antonino Migliuolo from Italy close up and just eight points separate them.

On home ground in Croatia, the Group 2 points leader Tomislav Muhvić also stands an outside chance of climbing the final podium in Category 1 with his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. Certainly the large and passionate fanbase for the event will be cheering him on to success in his group and possibly overall.

Poland’s Maciej Serafin sealed the Group 5 title with his Renault Clio at the penultimate event and will not join the starting list for the Buzetski dani. This leaves the field of 13 hot hatchbacks travelling to Croatia with an open goal to battle for victory and the chance to end their 2022 campaigns on a high.

Joining the contemporary cars of the EHC will be a full field of contenders from the FIA Historic Hill Climb Championship. Italy has claimed the Ryder Cup-style nations’ title, thanks to the class-winning success of Porsche 911-mounted Giorgio Tessore in Category 3 and the success of his countrymen Brando Motti in Category 2 and Piero Lottini in Category 4.

Title contenders Jean-Marc Debeaune and František Kmet will go head-to-head for the Category 5 championship for single-seater cars at the Croatia event. Lottini is all-but assured of Category 4 glory in his Osella PA9/90 sports-prototype, while in Category 2 Motti’s Porsche faces one last challenge from the Skoda 130 RS ofCzech racer Petr Strnad.

The Buzetski dani course is one of the shortest on the European hill climb calendar, measuring just 5.001km but it is a sinuous challenge that climbs 250 metres from start to finish. Last year’s winner averaged 141.4 km/h for the ascent.

Having celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2021, the event has been on the FIA schedule since 2006 and makes a fitting end to the season for the region’s foremost hill climb competitors.

For full information on the 2022 FIA European Hill Climb Championship please visit HERE (https://www.fia.com/events/european-hill-climb-championship/season-2022/2022-standings)

For full information on the 2022 FIA Historic Hill Climb Championship please visit HERE (https://www.fia.com/events/historic-hill-climb-championship/season-2022/2022-standings)