(video) St Ursanne, Jura, Switzerland (GenevaLunch.com) – Hill-climb is one of the least known of motorsports, so the death of Lionel Régal, five-time French champion and 2008 European champion, on a slippery road in western Switzerland Sunday, did not make the kind of headlines that any F1 crash would. But kudos continue to stream in for the 35-year-old from Lyons, France, widely considered a brilliant driver, a likeable sportsman, and the driver of reference in uphill mountain motor racing.

Mourners mark death of hill-climb champ Lionel Régal

He died instantly when his car hit a tree after slipping on a rain-drenched road. Hill-climb drivers run on roads that are normally open to regular traffic (closed for the race day), and that therefore have few guard rails and no tire barriers. They can get up to speeds well over 200 kph, depending on the course.

The St Ursanne course counts for the European championship.

Auto123, which says the “highly talented 35-year-old driver will be sorely missed”, describes the sport: “The objective is to drive up a mountain road closed to public traffic, such as the famous Pikes Peak in the USA.

The runs of competitor are timed. Most competitors drive rally cars while others, such as Regal find their rush of adrenaline behind the wheel of a nimble put very powerful single seater.”

His father Marc, also a racer and a pioneer in Formule 3000 cars, was killed during a race in southern France 28 September 1997.

Obituary, Regal team site and large collection of photos by Clement Luck

Video of his 2009 run on the St Ursanne course in 2009

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