Geoffrey Schatz puts Europe in his pocket

In Rechberg (Austria), scene of the first round of the European Mountain Championship last weekend, Geoffrey Schatz stunned the competition to win his first victory on the continental scene.

Published on 29/04/2024 à 09:08

Pierre Barre

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Geoffrey Schatz puts Europe in his pocket

©Nicolas Millet

Although Geoffrey Schatz's European outings were rare in recent years, they never left a stone unturned as the Mâconnais had each time shaken the coconut tree. 2nd in Illirska Bistrica (Slovenia) in 2019 behind Simone Faggioli and ahead of Christian Merli, also second during the 2021 FIA Hillclimb Masters in Braga (Portugal) sandwiched between the two Italian legends, the quadruple French Mountain Champion had not yet never managed to materialize. It is now a done deal, since Geoffrey Schatz claimed victory last weekend in Rechberg (Austria) for the first round of the 1 European Mountain Championship in which he is participating this year. And, what’s more, with style.

From the tests, Schatz perfectly inaugurated his brand new Nova Proto NP01 with Turbo engine and equipped with a central driving position, dominating all the regulars of the continental championship: Christian Merli, Petr Trnka, Joseba Iraola or even Corentin Starck had not no other choice than to helplessly watch the takeoff of the Schatz rocket which would increase its pace throughout the day and then complete the tests in the lead. The Mâconnais would strike even harder during the first climb of the Sunday race by setting the new course record, before achieving success in the second to achieve his first success in the elite of the discipline. Details that Geoffrey Schatz discovered the route of this race... that shows the room for maneuver he had! Christian Merli places his Osella FA30 V8 a second and a half behind Schatz, while Joseba Iraola finally takes 3rd place in the event at the wheel of another Nova Proto NP01.

The French at the party

The contingent of French pilots entered in the European Mountain Championship are breaking all records this year. In the wake of Schatz, Kévin Petit also chose to abandon the French championship for the European championship while remaining faithful to his Revolt 3P0 “Décopeint” – since that is now how his mount must be named due to a Naming – and made it through his first appointment. He took the 6th final position in the event at the finish and admitted to being very satisfied with the performance displayed by his car.

Three other French drivers were also there, this time in category 1 reserved for closed cars. Nicolas Werver, recent winner of the Saint-Jean-du-Gard – Col Saint-Pierre Hill Climb, hoists his Porsche 997 GT3 R in 4th final place in Rechberg, a result which may seem frustrating at first when we know that the Alsatian is the reigning European Mountain Vice-Champion but nevertheless very satisfactory after the big off-road accident including he was a victim last October (see AUTOhebdo n° 2458). Another Frenchman who shone in Austria, Stéphane Garcia: former French Mountain Champion 2nd Division (2021), the Orléans native made his comeback to competition last weekend as part of the European Championship. At the wheel of his new Peugeot 308 Cup, he took 2nd place in Group 4 and therefore launched his season perfectly. Less success unfortunately for Nicolas Granier on his Audi RS3 LMS TCR, since the driver from the South of France was the victim of a collision on the first climb of the race. Remember that the classification of the event is established on the accumulation of the two climbs of the race, the error is therefore prohibitive and does not allow Nicolas Granier to be classified on arrival in Rechberg. Frustrating, when we know their title objectives in Group 1 in this European Championship.

©Nicolas Millet

Rechberg was also the scene of the first round of the European Historic Mountain Championship, where Jean-Marc Debeaune has been competing since 2022. Multiple French VHC Sport champion, the pilot of the Van Diemen RF82 also signed a convincing result by finishing 2nd in the single-seaters behind the German Franz Hilger and his Chevron B38.

It is in Spain on May 11 and 12 that the European Mountain Championship will continue with another legendary event: the Subida Al Fito.

Rechberg rankings (April 27-28). Round 1/10

2 category : 1. G. Schatz (Nova Proto NP01 Turbo) in 3'26''974 (1st CN/E2SC), 2. C. Merli (Osella FA30 V8) in 3'28''548 (1st D/E2SS), 3. J. Iraola (Nova Proto NP01 Turbo) in 3'29''666, 4. C. Starck (Nova Proto NP01 V8) in 3'32''421, 5. P. Trnka (Norma M20FC V8) in 3 '32''591, 6. K. Small (Revolt 3P0 Decopainted Turbo) in 3'35''620, etc. Best climb: Schatz 1'43''424

1 category : 1. K. Schagerl (VW Golf Rally) in 3'48''417 (1st Group 1), 2. R. Bratschi (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII RS) in 3'55''487, 3. J. Weidinger (BMW Z4 GT3) in 4'00'' 115 (1st Group 2), 4. N. Werver (Porsche 997 GT3 R) in 4'00''694, 5. K. Krupa (Skoda Fabia CT) in 4'03''873 (1st Group A) …, 29. S. Garcia (Peugeot 308 Cup) in 2'15''613 (2nd Group 4), etc. Best climb: Schagerl 1'54''177

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