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Merli tops Unlimited runners in Pikes Peak qualifying

Qualifying for the 102nd Running of the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb by Gran Turismo continued Wednesday with the Unlimited and Pikes Peak GT4 Trophy by Yokohama divisions rotating into the lower section to qualify for Sunday’s race, while other divisions higher up the mountain saw the weather affect their time on course.

LOWER SECTION – Multi-time European Hill Climb champion and PPIHC event rookie Christian Merli laid down the top time for the Unlimited division from the get-go with his Wolf Aurobay GB08 2.0 HP (pictured above). He started with a 3m48.718s, and after Dan Novembre put the pressure on in the second run with a 3m50.484s, Merli responded with an even faster 3m42.689s. That time would stand, as Novembre shaved three seconds off on his next attempt but could get no closer.

In the Pikes Peak GT4 Trophy by Yokohama, times kept plummeting with every pass even as light rain began to fall. In the end, Nuno Caetano, Laura Hayes and Robb Holland were separated by under 0.7s on their fourth runs — with Caetano topping Hayes by a razor-thin 0.013s.

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MIDDLE SECTION – While their sessions were weather-delayed, the Pikes Peak Open and Exhibition divisions were at least able to make multiple passes on the middle section. Top Pikes Peak Open qualifier Romain Dumas was once again the leader of the field in this section with a 2m17.780s, more than 15 seconds faster than Jimmy Ford, who qualified second behind Dumas yesterday.

All four Exhibition entries were within the overall top six in section, with the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N TA Spec machine of Dani Sordo clocking the fastest time. In a last-minute change, Randy Pobst replaced Robin Shute in the #49.

UPPER SECTION – Unfortunately, inclement weather got the best of the day’s upper section running, preventing the Time Attack 1 and Open Wheel divisions from running at speed. Competitors and organizers were met with heavy fog and ice accumulation at the summit. As with the middle section, rookies were given the opportunity to make a sighting run.

The 102nd Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is set for Sunday, June 23. Live timing can be found all week long at livetiming.net/ppihc.

Sessions slated for the remainder of Race Week are listed below:

Practice/Qualifying Day 3: Thursday, June 20
Upper Section: Pikes Peak Open, Exhibition
Middle Section: Unlimited, Pikes Peak GT4 Trophy by Yokohama
Lower Section (Qualifying): Time Attack 1, Open Wheel

Optional Sanctioned Practice: Friday, June 21
Upper Section: Unlimited, Pikes Peak GT4 Trophy by Yokohama
Middle Section: Time Attack 1, Open Wheel
Lower Section: Pikes Peak Open, Exhibition

Story originally appeared on Racer