The curtain on the 2019 European Hill Climb Championship came down in Croatia, with more than 200 drivers (including competitors in the FIA Historic Championship) at the start of the Buzet event. The absence of its 2019 Champions Faggioli and Merli provided the opportunity for the outsiders to find themselves in the spotlight, and for Czech Milos Benes to end the season with a flourish.
With a new FIA title in the bag since the previous event in Slovenia, and no longer any chance of separating them, nor of improving their score, Simone Faggioli and Christian Merli had chosen to skip the final stage of the tour of the 12 European countries in the continental Championship. Not to give themselves a rest after a very full and thrilling season, but to go and try to win other honours, in Sicily! Insatiable, the two of them are battling it out in a trial of strength to carry off a new national title in the Italian Championship.
The absence of the two Italian bogeymen naturally made the forecast for the Buzet event in Croatia much more open and difficult: instead of the two obvious candidates for the victory, the pool of potential winners expanded to at least six or seven contenders.
While convincing in practice, Denny Zardo (Norma M20FC Zytek) had to throw in the towel in the first heat after running off the road. In the end, Czech Milos Benes (Osella FA30 Judd), although reducing the number of events in which he has taken part in this year’s European Championship compared with the last few seasons, emerged triumphant in the combined classification of the two climbs in Croatia after a closely fought duel with Slovenia’s Patrick Zajelsnik (Norma M20FC Mugen).
Having achieved a decent first full season of the European Championship, Austrian Christoph Lampert (Osella FA30 Zytek) completed the podium at Buzet, finishing ahead of Stefano di Fulvio (Osella PA30 Zytek), Sébastien Petit (Norma M20 FC Mugen), Fausto Bormolini (Reynard K02) and Petr Trnka (Ligier JS53 Evo2 Honda), again first among the Group E2-SC cars under two litres.
As at Trento in July, Manuel Dondi’s super-light Fiat X1/9 flew to victory in Group E2-SH over the more powerful Lotus Elise V8 of Dan Michl, Mitsubishi Lancer of Domagoj Perekovic and BMW E90 M3 of Norbert Nagy.
In GT, on one of his rare visits abroad, Luca Gaetani, winner of the bronze medal in the 2018 FIA Hill Climb Masters, was on brilliant form in Croatia with his Ferrari 458, finishing ahead of the Porsche 997 GT3R of Christian Schmitter, the McLaren 650S GT3 of Jan Milon and the Lamborghini Huracan of Bruno Jarach.
In Group S20, Villiam Prodan proved victorious at the wheel of his Skoda Fabia R5, while Slovakia’s Peter Ambruz (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) took advantage of the misfortunes of Antonino Migliuolo (mechanical problems) and Kosovo’s Liridon Kalenderi (run-off) to take the win in Group N. Lastly, the Honda Civic Type-R cars of Ales Prek and Luca Zuurbier pulled off a one-two in Group A, ahead of the Subaru Impreza of Lukas Vojacek, who prudently plumped for third place so as not to compromise his chances of winning a second consecutive European title in Category 1.
To consult the final classification of the FIA European Hill Climb Championship, click here.
To view the photo gallery of the Buzet event in Croatia, click here.