Ecce Homo 2016

4th - 5th June 2016

European Hillclimb Championship

Ecce Homo, one of the oldest races in the world (dated back to 1905), and one of the most traditional races of the European Hill Climb Championship (held every year since 1981), was held in Šternberk the last weekend. The competition was of the best in the race history. Simone Faggioli, the winner of the last seven editions of the race, had a really serious opposition in the factory Osella driver Christian Merli. Enzo Osella, the founder of the famous team, which also appeared in Formula 1 during the early 1980s, and of course in the WEC from the late 1970s until the Group C era. Then Osella purely concentrated on open-top sports prototypes, mainly in hill climb racing.

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Those two main favourites were well supported by a number of great and quick drivers. To name a few with just ambitions for overall positions: Miloš Beneš, Paride Macario, Joël Volluz (all Osella FA30), Fausto Bormolini & Renzo Nappione (Reynard F3000 updated to nearly Can-Am spec.), Petr Vítek (Osella PA30) and several drivers with Normas M20FC, the car that also Simone Faggioli drove: Václav Janík, Dušan Nevěřil and David Komárek. All those named were capable of achieving same or better time than former multiply absolute winner, László Szász, who arrived with a classic Reynard Formula 3000. There were 9 drivers that set time under 3 minutes, and Szász was not among them.

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In both Saturday practice sessions Christian Merli was nearly one second quicker than Simone Faggioli. Notes from paddock suggested that the Ecce Homo track suits better Merli's Osella than Faggioli's Norma. Moreover it was said that Faggioli's car did not have an optimal setup, he was not quite satisfied.

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Miloš Beneš was the third fastest in the practice behind the two. He was just marginally quicker than Paride, who was easily third after the first heat. Miloš Beneš then on Sunday had very good sector times - before his rear wing collapsed at the quick but very bumpy segment call Lipinský oblouk. Soon after he crashed... In the meantime both Faggioli and Merli were already on the track. Faggioli's car now worked excellently. First sector time 1:50.93 could have meant a new track record improved by 2 seconds. Merli was only slightly behind.... but both had to stop and interrupt their run soon after the Lipinský oblouk :-(.

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Both repeated the heat but: the tyres were already used and those top drivers use one set per heat in order to keep them in optimal conditions. Concentration may have also went down but most importantly in Faggioli's car the electronic failed and cause engine stoppage for a relatively long time, before firing again. Before that Faggioli was almost a half second ahead of Merli. In the finish of the first heat, he was 11 seconds behind Merli, and only seventh overall - such close the competition was.

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But the battle was the win was spoiled, the main drama for the second heat was whether the weather forecast of possible rainstorm will happen or not. This could prevent any of the quick car from winning the race overall. Fortunately, it was dry until the very end. Merli then won easily, but Faggioli set the best time of the day in an (successful) attempt to win his class (E2-SC) and get maximum European Championship points. It has not been said yet, that points are scored in separate classes quite independently, and while Merli (and other Osellas FA30) ran among single-seater (E2-SS), Faggioli (and all Normas or Osellas PA30) ran in the genuine sports car class (E2-SC). There were also silhouettes (E2-SH), this year newly reappearing CN class. Those are Category II classes. In Category I there are more proper touring cars and GTs.

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While in the second heat Faggioli failed to beat his own record only by a fraction of a second, je managed to move from 7th to 4th position and win his class ahead of Peter Janík, who finished 5th with his Norma. Top 3 positions belonged to the single-seater class cars, though all of them were Osella FA30, basically proper sports prototypes with a seat in the middle. Paride was second and Wolluz was third half second behind.

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Best silhouette car (E2-SH) was Audi TT DTM driven by Vladimír Vitver, eleventh overall. In its class it was followed by Dan Michl in a Lotus Elise and Marek Rybníček in Ford Fiesta WRC Evo. Karl Schagerl in extremely powerful VW Golf won the E1 class. He was actually the fastest closed car in practice. The new CN class had only three starters and just one of them placed within the TOP20 (Andrea Bormolini in Osella PA21).

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More traditional Groups A and N were won by Jaromír Malý (Group A - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII) and Nikola Miljkovic (Group N - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX). A little more complicated was a winner of GT - while four true GT cars were clasified for the European Championship in the following order: Porsche 997 GT3 Cup (driven by "Tessitore"), Lamborghini Gallardo GT3, Ferrari 430 GT and Nissan 350 Z. The same positions were valid for supporting Austrian Championship. But overall results show Istvan Kavecz in BMW E90 as the fastest GT car. For other championships it was considered to be a silhouette E2-SH. So who knows?

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This annual of Ecce Homo had actually not only the best competition among the top and fast drivers but also hosted the largest number of car entered in the race. In total 183 cars were scrutineered, which is a new record for the Ecce Homo race. Despite that the organisation went well and even with some delays (usually caused by a need to repair crash barriers - for example after 2nd heat accident of Fausto Bormolini), the programme finished very early, especially on Saturday the heats were done very early.

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Actually the number of total entries was boosted by the FIA Historic Hill-Climb Championship, which attracted over 40 cars - though some historic machines could have been seen in other modern car classes. This official historic classification was headed by Uberto Bonucci with a very quick Osella PA9/90. He would be classified 21st overall, should there be officially such combined classification. Jaroslav Prášek in a Chevron B42 (Formula 2) was second, more than half a minute behind and Adam Klus, driving ex-Miroslav Adámek Interserie March HBS Audi Turbo Can-Am was third. Best closed cocpict car was a Porsche 935 Turbo driven by famous Jean-Marie Almeras, multiply European Champion. He was classified 5th in the overall historics classification ahead of a Porsche 911 Carrera driven by Gerald Glinzner and a very well prepared De Tomaso Pantera of Giuliano Palmieri. Seventh among historic cars was Horst Pichler who drove nice Abarth 2000 SE021.

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The race was great, well organised - only problems were unavoidable accident which marred the first position battle as well as new record, which would have otherwise almost surely happened. Hopefully the tradition of the race will continue for many more years to come.

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