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Points leader Merli heads Ecce Homo Sternberk practice times


The Ecce Homo Sternberk hill climb, Round 4 of this year’s FIA European Hill Climb Championship (FIA EHC) and the opening event of the 2022 FIA Historic Hill Climb Championship (FIA HHC), got underway with official practice today (May 28).

The classic Czech venue saw its pre-event favourite, the four-time Ecce Homo winner Christian Merli, set the pace in his Osella FA30 sports-prototype with a time of 2 minutes 42.043 seconds for the 7.8 kilometre ascent.

Merli set this benchmark on his first run up the course, which climbs more than 600 metres, before rain slowed the pace for the second practice session.

Local hero Petr Trnka set the second-fastest time overall in his Norma sports-prototype, some 4.230 seconds behind. Merli and Trnka currently hold first and second in the FIA ERC championship standings, with 30 points and 23 points respectively.

Fastest of the production-based Group 1 cars was the VW Golf Rallye of Karl Schagerl in ninth overall, his time of 3m 07.285s keeping him clear of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo campaigned by Liridon Kalenderi by a margin of 6.5 seconds.

In the less modified Group 2 category, Krystina Fillova set the pace in her Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, a time of 3m 23.182s shading the Lamborghini Huracan of Martin Jerman by 5.578s.

In total 73 cars set practice times across the various FIA EHC classes for sports-prototype, single-seat, GT and touring cars. Adding to this number are the competitors in other series also taking part in the Ecce Homo festival, led by the FIA HHC contenders.

Fastest of the 36 historic entrants to take part in practice was Piero Lottini’s Osella PA9/90 sports-prototype, whose time of 3m 42.383s was 9.830 seconds faster than that of second-placed Jaroslav Presek’s Chevron B42.

Competitive action starts at 08:30 tomorrow morning (Sunday, May 29).