FIA European Hill Climb Championship contenders prepare for Round 4 (July 1-3)
Second event in 2022 FIA Historic Hill Climb Championship season promises delight
A festival of motorsport takes place this weekend in the picturesque Italian Alps as the FIA European Hill Climb Championship (FIA EHC) and FIA Historic Hill Climb Championship
Founded in 1925, the Trento-based event is the longest-surviving of its kind in the world and one of the definitive weekends in this thrilling discipline. The 17.3 km ascent rises from 275 metres above sea level to 1650 metres on sinuous Alpine roads, and drivers often have to confront changeable weather conditions throughout the event.
While the course is one of the most demanding in the world, that does not affect the performance of the drivers and machines, with the current outright record being a time of 9 mins 0.52 seconds, set in 2017 by Simone Faggioli, the ten-time winner in Trento.
The only driver to have beaten Faggioli at this historic event since 2010 is the current runaway points leader in the FIA EHC Category 2 for open cars, Christian Merli. Having taken the honours at all three opening rounds of the 2022 season so far, Merli is keen to claim the second overall win at Trento of his career, but found in testing that a wiring problem in his revised Osella was causing reliability issues.
“We reassembled everything and then fixed the set-up and the gearbox for this particular climb as well as installing additional cooling fans,” Merli said. “Also, with the nature of the climb, we have to increase the air flow on the brakes. We work day and night to arrive in time for the checks on Friday, hoping that everything is in order for the first test on Saturday.”
Merli’s pre-event gremlins will offer hope to, Czech ace Petr Trnka leads the pursuit of Merli in the Category 2 points. Trnka ran Merli very close on home ground at the last event, the Ecce Homo Sternberk, and having finished in second to Merli at each of the events so far this season, Trnka will be keen to strike hard on his rival’s home soil.
The 2022 season has also brought fine performances from Spanish ace Javier Villa Garcia and Frenchman Sébastien Petit, who will also be among the very fastest contenders in Trento and eager to spring a surprise. Certainly, Merli will not have it all his own way as he seeks to build on the success of his season so far.
In the Category 1 classes for production-based closed cars, the current points lead is held by Macedonian Jaksic Vasilije, competing in Group 4 with a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. A wealth of talent across the different classes within Category 2 will doubtless seek to challenge Vasilije’s position in Trento, not least the Group 1 points leader Karl Schagerl, the Austrian having won every round of the season so far in his highly modified VW Golf.
Not only will the modern hill climb machinery be put through its paces in Trento but also the second round of this season’s FIA HHC will be held. An all-star opening round at the Ecce Homo Sternberk saw Italian drivers including Brando Motti and Giorgio Tessore take honours in their respective classes, giving Italy a narrow points lead in the Nations Cup standings over first round host, the Czech Republic.
A strong entry from across Europe is guaranteed by the mystique of Trento. There are a multitude of Porsche 911s together with Jean Marie Almeras’ fabulous Porsche 935 – the same car in which he won the main championship in period.
Lancias, Fiats and Alfa Romeos populate the large home entry for Trento but the diversity and pedigree of the HHC contenders is impressive and sure to deliver a tremendous battle for the huge crowds to enjoy.