The second day of the European Hill Climb Championship in Portugal was a turnaround: Simone Faggioli put all his strength into the battle and managed to make up for the deficit of the previous day to win by a small margin of 0.032 seconds against Christian Merli.
The first round of the European Hill Climb Championship in Boticas was an unusual one: with the threat of heavy rain on Sunday, the clerk of the course took the wise decision to bring forward the first race to Saturday evening, so that what was initially supposed to be the first of the three race heats on Sunday could be turned into a warm-up. The decision proved to be justified, as the drivers did indeed have to deal with a very wet road during their first Sunday run, but the weather then gradually improved, to the point that by the third run the asphalt was dry again.
Simone Faggioli, who had been 1.785 seconds faster on Saturday, took the gamble of fitting his Norma M20FC Zytek with four new Ultrasoft tyres for the final climb, while Christian Merli (Osella FA30) was more conservative, preferring to keep the same tyres as the previous day. Not only did Faggioli set a new course record, but he also managed to beat Merli by 1.817 seconds, who admitted after the finish that he had been a little too cautious and had not expected the whole course to dry out completely.
The first victory of the season was thus decided by 32 thousandths of a second: this bodes well for a new season of intense competition between the two Italian champions, who in Boticas relegated their closest pursuers, Diego Degasperi (Osella FA30 Zytek) and Sébastien Petit (Nova NP01-2 Zytek), to more than 15 and 18 seconds respectively. Federico Liber's seventh place in the final classification was one of the most notable performances of the Portuguese weekend, although the Italian driver was among those few who would have wished for persistent rain. With his small motorcycle-engined Formula Gloria C8P, he had allowed himself to get to fourth place in the second race run in the rain.
Just like Faggioli in Category 2, Swiss driver Ronnie Bratschi (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII) managed to exploit the last race heat to make up for his deficit of the previous day and beat Spanish driver José Lopez-Fombona (Lamborghini Huracan) by just three tenths of a second in Category 1.
Portugal's Pedro Marques (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) took the victory in Group 2 against Slovakia's Jan Milon (Skoda Fabia). As for the Italian Antonino Migliuolo (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), he clearly dominated Group 3, even allowing himself to rank higher than the best Group 2 cars.
The FIA European Hill Climb Championship will continue next weekend in Spain, at the Subida Internacional Al Fito.