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FIA Hill Climb Masters
Šternberk turns into a very colourful anthill
Even if it will not be until Saturday’s two practice runs that the first engine whirrs will be heard, Friday was a packed day at Šternberk. Coming from all four corners of Europe, 111 competitors carried out administrative and technical checks before attending the briefing. The second edition of the FIA Hill Climb Masters is definitely in full swing!
On Friday, 7 October, the peaceful town of Šternberk was not as quiet as usual. The centre of this city of 13,500 inhabitants, located in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, looked more like a particularly colourful anthill! The competition cars had been unloaded from the trucks and trailers. Washed and pampered, they were then handed over the scrutineers for usage checks. Many curious onlookers were already on site to take in the unique atmosphere of the FIA Hill Climb Masters and meet the drivers who will take over the show right from the first practice sessions, scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday. Not surprisingly, the Italian Simone Faggioli was one of the public’s favourites.
“I do indeed have a lot of fans here”, said the nine-time European Champion, smiling, a true hill climb legend. “I first came here in 2003 for a European event and I am very happy that the Hill Climb Masters are taking place in Šternberk. It is a great location and the layout is interesting, even if we will be racing on a shorter version (3.333 km) compared to the race traditionally held in June”.
Friendly, open, very professional and incredibly fast, the Italian is famous in the world of hill climb. And he really appreciates the concept of the Masters. “This event is very good for our discipline”, he says. “It’s a big party where we meet up with competitors from all over, such as the Brits. Their powerful single-seaters race in a different category from my Norma prototype. I know that there is a gold medal for all three categories…but I have to admit – I want to be the fastest of all at the end of the day!”
Despite having to travel far, the British delegation is particularly well equipped and attracts a lot of attention. It is true that the discipline’s very relaxed regulations in the UK (there is no cylinder nor weight limit) means that there are some very impressive single-seaters with more than 600 horse power and weighing less than 500 kilos. “It’s fantastic to be here”, says the Scottish Wallace Menzies enthusiastically. “I have done 2,400 kilometres, but I am going to get the chance to compete in my first race on the continent. Two years ago, I had a serious accident and my car was too damaged before the Eschdorf race. I followed it remotely, by telephone, via my British championship teammates. I had promised myself that I would participate in the second edition!”
Aside from the difference in the technical regulations which has already been mentioned, her Majesty’s team must also adapt to a whole new world. “The Šternberk layout is not at all like what we are used to”, adds Wallace Menzies, who took third place in the British competition this year. “It is about two times longer than our hill climbs and the tarmac grip is much better. There are however fast sections, and more technical ones, which makes it interesting. It is up to us to adapt as quickly as possible”.
While the top drivers driving prototypes and single-seaters attract a lot of attention, the peculiarity of the hill climb is that it is open to all sorts of different cars. Silhouettes, GTs and more traditional touring cars – there is something for everyone. This also means that the competitors on the starting line are quite unique. “It is an honour for me to be here”, says the Bulgarian Stefan Stoev, driving the Honda Civic with which he won the national championship in his class twice. “Aside from a race in Romania, this is the first time that I have competed in a foreign country. And what an event! I am impressed with the number of participants and by the quality of the cars here. Compared to what we are used to in Bulgaria, the roads are in better condition and I am sure that they have more grip. I have studied the route by watching many videos: on-board cameras, but also photos taken by spectators. This helps anticipate the problems that we might encounter. Then, I have driven it many times in my standard car, but at a low speed. Of course, it will be very different during the race!”
The tension is gradually building in Šternberk. This Saturday, two practice hill climbs are on the cards for each competitor. Sunday, three heats (starting at 8.30 a.m.) are scheduled and each competitor’s best time will be counted.
Live-streaming of the race
As a reminder, all three race heats of the FIA Hill Climb Masters will be live-streamed on Sunday, 9 October 2016 via the following link: https://goo.gl/LxiRZA.
Live timing, which will post all the results, is available at: http://timing.eccehomo.cz/masters/absolute?Pretek=290
For more information on the FIA Hill Climb Masters, click here.
Date: 7/10/2016 | Author: L.Owen