Even before registration opens for the drivers, the FIA Hill Climb Masters, which will be held in Gubbio, Italy on 12-14 October, can already be sure to beat one record: that of the most national teams entered in a Nations Cup.
The biennial Hill Climb Masters event is not just an individual race, where the drivers of the four categories in competition fight for gold, silver or bronze. Since it was established in 2014, the Masters also includes a Nations Cup.
In a discipline that for the most part is very solitary – where the driver and his machine are alone against the road and the clock – the Masters have managed to inject a notion of team sport into the challenge, through this Nations Cup.
Each ASN (federation) can enter a group of four drivers and the principle is to reward the team that demonstrates that it has the best regularity. In order to even the odds of each country, given that equipment can vary greatly among the participants who come from different backgrounds, the classification by nation is based on a regularity index, instead of pure speed.
A country that only enters touring cars can therefore make a bid for victory, just as much as a country with prototypes and drivers can aim for an overall individual win. With 12 entered in 2014, and 14 in 2016, 20 national teams have been announced for the Masters in Gubbio on 12-14 October – a record number in the history of the Masters.
As a reminder, Italy won the title in 2014, and Slovakia in 2016. On each of these occasions, Switzerland has taken second place. These three teams will of course be among the teams lining up this year.
Having participated in 2014 and/or 2016, France, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Luxemburg, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece have each appointed their captain and announced that they will enter a team in Gubbio. Out of all the nations entered in the previous editions, only Austria (even though it twice came in third) is missing from the list.
Six other ASNs are taking on the challenge for the first time: Portugal, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Slovenia and Malta.
The entry of these 20 ASNs is the first stage. Next, the appointed captains must select the four drivers who will defend their country’s colours. These nominations must be official by 21 September at the latest.