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Christian Merli continues to steamroll his way through the events of the 2019 FIA European Hill Climb Championship: in Sternberk, Czech Republic, the Italian achieved his fifth victory in a row!

With 194 cars entered – of which 51 competed in the supporting historic event – the Czech classic Ecce Homo in Sternberk did not run completely smoothly; several engine incidents, and their ensuing major oil slicks on the track required long breaks in the Sunday racing programme.

The event thus finished late, after 6.30 p.m., but in spectacular fashion: the last driver to attack the 7.8 kilometre course, Christian Merli, set a time that stunned everyone behind him. Clocking a time of 2’39”93, the driver of the Osella FA30 Zytek smashed the overall course record by one and a half seconds and led his closest adversary, once the aggregate for the two runs had been calculated, by more than nine seconds! Even though he had won the event nine times in the past, Simone Faggioli (Norma M20FC Zytek) could only accept defeat faced with such an incredible performance.

While the gaps between the top two rivals were considerable on this occasion, they were very tight between the drivers battling for third place. The Italian Diego Degasperi (Osella FA30 Zytek) took bronze, beating Swiss driver Joel Volluz (Osella FA30 Judd) by just one tenth of a second, and the Czech driver Milos Benes (Osella FA30 Zytek) by eight tenths of a second.

Dropping down into Group CN while awaiting the repair of his three-litre Norma Mugen, which had been seriously damaged in Portugal, Sébastien Petit (Norma M20FC Honda) did not have it easy in taking the win over Marco Capucci (Osella PA21S Honda). A minuscule two hundredths of a second separated the Frenchman from the Italian in the second run! When the times of the two heats were added up, Petit only had a one-second lead over Capucci. This victory in Group CN meant he would climb back up to provisional third place in the Championship in Category 2.

Group N was no less hotly contested, between Antonino Migliuolo and the Czech Ivo Holan, whose Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IXs were only separated at the end by 62 hundredths of a second, to the benefit of the Italian.

The other group winners in Sternberk were the Slovaks Jan Milon (first in GT at the wheel of his McLaren 650S GT3) and Ivan Mutnansky (first in S20 in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X R4), and the Czechs Marek Rybnicek (winner in E2-SH with his McLaren F1 Evo) and Lukas Vojacek (first in Group A with his Subaru Impreza WRX STI).

Competitors now head for Germany and the Glasbachrennen for the sixth round of the FIA European Hill Climb Championship, scheduled for 15 and 16 June.

To view the provisional classification of the FIA European Hill Climb Championship, click here.

To access the Ecce Homo-Sternberk photo gallery, click here.