EHC - HILL CLIMB: MERLI-FAGGIOLI DUEL INTENSIFIES | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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EHC - HILL CLIMB: MERLI-FAGGIOLI DUEL INTENSIFIES

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23.05.19

Even though he won two of the three climbs in the fourth round of the FIA European Hill Climb Championship in Spain, Simone Faggioli lost by seven tenths of a second to Christian Merli in the aggregate times of each driver. However, the narrowing of the gap is a promising sign for the upcoming events, which will be held in the Czech Republic, Germany and Italy

A week after the Portuguese round, the FIA European Hill Climb Championship visited the Asturias region of Spain. The two events turned out to be completely different: the hyper-fast course at Falperra was followed by the twisty track at Al Fito and the ideal sunny weather in Portugal gave way to inclement weather in Spain. The latter made the road and grip conditions very tricky, causing several cars to leave the road, of which one caused the Swiss driver Reto Meisel (Mercedes SLK Judd) to be eliminated. After practice, which took place in the rain, the tarmac dried out during the different heats on the Sunday, even if grip was limited right until the end, particularly in the sections that were partially tree-covered. Nevertheless, several drivers dared to put on slick tyres at the end of the day, after having for the most part started the day on intermediate rubber.

No one got close to the overall course record. Christian Merli (Osella FA30 Zytek) achieved his fourth consecutive win of the season, but without demonstrating the same overwhelming domination as at the three previous events. Assisted by his team mate Fabien Bouduban, whose Norma M20FC Zytek he drove in Spain after experiencing problems with his own car in Portugal, Simone Faggioli had a very good first heat, leading Christian Merli by 2.9 seconds, who was lacking feedback from his tyres on the slippery morning road. Merli riposted in the second round, clocking a time of 2.1 seconds faster than Faggioli. The third round would clearly be decisive and faster due to the now dried out course. Faggioli took it with a 1.4-second advantage, which turned out nonetheless to be insufficient to narrow the gap in the second round. The Italian duellists finished the day each as winners of their Groups (E2-SH and E2-SC), which keeps them dead level in the provisional Championship classification.

The specific race conditions at Al Fito allowed Javier Villa to make up for the lack of power in his agile BRC 53 fitted with a turbocharged motorbike engine. Throwing himself from turn to turn, the ex GP2 and WTCC driver excelled, so much so that he earned himself a spot on the final overall podium! The Austrian Christoph Lampert (Osella FA30 Zytek), the Italian Diego De Gasperi (Osella FA30 Zytek) and the Luxembourger Guy Demuth (Norma M20FC Mugen) completed the final Top Six group, ahead of the Spaniard Andres Vilarinho (Norma M20F Zytek) and Sébastien Petit. The latter was driving a Norma with a two-litre engine this time, while waiting for his Mugen-engined Norma to be repaired, after having sustained serious damage seven days earlier in Portugal.

Frenchman Pascal Campi dominated Group CN in his Osella PA21S, while Vladimir Vitver (Audi TT-R DTM) took the victory in Group E2-SH, ahead of rally driver Alberto Ordonez Losada’s VW Polo N5 and the Lamborghini Huracan driven by Jose Antonio Lopez-Fombona.

In Category 1, Antonino Migliuolo and Salvador Arroyo had a fierce battle in Group N, which was ultimately won by the Italian thanks to an excellent final climb. Jan Milon (McLaren 650 S GT3), Lukas Vojacek (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) and Laszlo Hernadi (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX R4) respectively won Groups GT, A and S20.

The next stage for the European “highlanders”: the Ecce Homo event in Sternberk (CZE), the oldest event of the Championship, whose first edition was held back in 1905!

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

A photo gallery of the “Subida Internacional al Fito” is available here.