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FIA European Hill Climb - Round 2

246 drivers expected at the Rechbergrennen

Having opened in France, the FIA European Hill Climb Championship will resume this weekend in Tulwitz, near Graz in Austria.

Since the return of Formula 1 to Zeltweg at the Red Bull Ring, the “Rechbergrennen” is no longer the key event on the Austrian sporting calendar, but it nevertheless remains an immensely popular meeting. At least 20,000 spectators are expected to attend and will assemble along the 5 kilometres of winding course starting from the village of Tulwitz.

Spectators will not be the only ones turning out in droves. The drivers too, exhilarated by the unique atmosphere of the race, are very glad to attend. The list of entrants for 2015 includes no less than 246 entries, representing 14 different nations!  Austrian drivers are naturally predominant, but the double European status of the Rechbergrennen (the event counts towards the European Hill Climb Championship for modern cars, but also towards its counterpart reserved for historic cars) means that it attracts a number of foreign drivers.

The chances of hearing the Italian national anthem on Sunday 26 April at the start of the evening during the podium ceremony are high, since the favourites to win are Simone Faggioli (Norma M20FC EVO-Zytek) and, for the historic cars, Uberto Bonucci (Osella PA9/90).

Clear-cut winner of the first round of the Championship ten days ago in France, Faggioli will have no fear, such is his control of his Norma-Zytek now fitted with Pirelli tyres. His main challengers appear to be Czech driver Milos Benes (Osella FA30) and Luxembourger David Hauser (Wolf GB08F1).

The Formula 3000 cars are again unlikely to be a match for the prototypes; the internal battle which will take place between Italian Fausto Bormolini (Reynard K02) and Czech Otakar Kramsky (Reynard K15) - two “old hands” at the European Championship - will nevertheless be compelling.

Almost alone in France, Czech Dan Michl and his unique Lotus Evora V8 will this time have to deal with real opposition in the Group E2-SH of the cars called “Silhouettes”. Austrian Erich Edlinger will be difficult to hold back at the wheel of his spectacular BMW 320 with V8 IRL engine, while other stars in the category will be Austrian Herbert Pregartner and his Porsche 911 GT2 RSR, Poland’s “Dubai” and Czech driver Marek Rybnicek with the Mitsubishi Lancer and Czech Vladimir Vitver with his Audi WTTR -DTM.

In Category 1, Jaromir Maly and Christian Schweiger in Group A, and Igor Stefanovski and Tomislav Muhvic in Group N will resume the very close battle that began in France.

Although they are ineligible in the European Championship, the touring cars gathered in Group E1 will be plentiful, as they look to score points for the Austrian Championship.

The strongest contenders will be the Audi Sport Quattro S1 of Nikolay Zlatkov (the winner of Group E1 of the FIA International Hill Climb Cup in 2014), the Escort Cosworth of Andreas Gabat, the Lancia Delta Integrale of Felix Pailer and the formidable Golf Rally TFSI-R of Karl Schagerl.

The competitors will be invited to three practice climbs on Saturday 25 April. The next day, two climbs are on the programme and the final classification will be drawn up by adding the times from the two heats.