The 10th edition of the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb crowned a new King of the Hill champion and saw the reign of two others extended.
The biggest news of the event was Franco Scribante taking his first King of the Hill title in the extremely competitive Modified Saloon Car category, powering his radical 2016 Nissan GT-R to a new Class B record time.He ousted 2018 winner Wilhelm Baard who had to settle for second place in the final Top 10 Shootout.
“It was an extremely challenging King of the Hill as it was getting dark for the Top 10 finale and we had a misfire that developed in the final run, but it all came together and the entire team is so happy to take this victory after working extremely hard to get the car ready for the Hillclimb,” Scribante stated.
In the Single Seater and Sport scar category, Andre Bezuidenhout fought off a strong challenge from Robert Wolk (2009 A1 GP Ferrari) to secure his third win a row. He powered the specialist Gould GR55 Hill climb car to a winning time – with his outright record of 35.528 seconds remaining unbeaten due to much cooler conditions this year.
It was a similar story for Reghard Roets who made it a hat-trick of victories in the Road Car and Supercar category, after slashing his 2018 time by 0.8 seconds to set a new Class A record of 44.094 seconds in his Nissan GT-R.
Over 17 000 spectators attended the 2019 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb over the three exhilarating days of Hill climb action. The event was also livestreamed to viewers around the world with more than 225 000 views over the weekend.
Classic Car Friday.
Franco Scribante yet again stamped his authority on the Jaguar Simola Hill climb’s Classic Car Friday event winning his fifth Classic Conqueror title, and fourth in a row, in thrilling fashion.
The 10th edition of the legendary Knysna event dawned wet and cold but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the 61 competitors that lined up for the start, nor for the thousands of fans that turned up for the first day of action.
Scribante appeared to be in a class of his own through most of the day in the impeccable 1970 Chevron B19. His closest challenge, as expected, came from Andre Bezuidenhout in a 1976 Lola Cosworth Formula Atlantic single-seater, who steadily narrowed the gap to his long-standing rival – but remained almost one second adrift of the reigning champion’s final qualifying run of 42.512 seconds.
However, in the quest for ultimate glory, it came down to the Classic Conqueror Top 10 Shootout, with the fastest drivers from the three qualifying sessions setting off in reverse order in an attempt to claim the overall title.
Josh Dovey was 10th quickest in his diminutive 1965 Ginetta G4 R (49.549 sec), finishing just behind Johan de Bruyn in his Porsche 911 R replica from the same year (49.189 sec).
Renowned Johannesburg-based racer Graeme Nathan was as spectacular as ever in the Peter Kaye-Eddie owned 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL to finish eighth (48.149 sec), with Rui Campos claiming seventh place with an impressive 47.664 seconds in his 1969 Porsche 911 RSR. Robert Wolk used his extensive single-seater experience to secure sixth place in his 1987 Reynard Formula Ford (47.638 sec).
As the first of the drivers to drop into the 45-second bracket, Peter Jenkins slotted his bright yellow Chevron into fifth place with his best run of the day at 45.904 seconds – more than 1.5 seconds quicker than his earlier attempts. Peter van der Spuy powered his mighty 1972 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo into fourth place with a time of 45.575 seconds.
Having made the switch from King of the Hill to Classic Car Friday, V8 racing legend Willie Hepburn caused a stir in the thunderous 7.0-litre 1981 Opel Rekord that hails from the WesBank Modifieds era the 77-year-old rounded off the shootout with a final run of 44.050 seconds which gave him a well-deserved third place overall.
This left it to the final duo to battle it out for the crown – with Bezuidenhout traditionally keeping something in reserve for the final run, thus setting the scene for an epic duel. He gave it all in the historic Formula Atlantic Lola, completing his last run in 42.651 seconds, an outstanding 0.755 sec faster than his previous best.
Then it was all up to Scribante. After a somewhat flustered start with a missed shift into second gear on the initial straight, he was on maximum attack for the remainder of the climb. The iconic orange Chevron crossed the timing beam at the top of the Simola Hill on the ragged edge, finishing a scant eight-hundredths of a second ahead of the Lola with a time of 42.574 seconds, conceding Scribante his fifth title by the narrowest of margins.
“My start wasn’t great as there was a bit of a miscommunication between the officials on the start line, so I lost my concentration a bit which caused me to miss second gear after pulling off,” Scribante said. “After that I knew that I had to go for it, and from there on I had an absolutely perfect run. It doesn’t get closer than that, which made for a great race.”
Bezuidenhout was gracious in defeat: “I tried as hard as I could and went almost a full second faster in the final run, but Franco was just that little bit quicker and deserves the win. It was great racing and amazing camaraderie as always on this event – and I had lots of fun.”
Spirit of Dave Charlton Award
The special ‘Spirit of Dave Charlton’ Award recognises the person that reflects South African race legend Dave Charlton’s spirit of impeccable attention to detail, meticulous preparation and commendable performance.
For the 2019 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, the Award for Classic Car Friday went to Ron Hollis. He heads up the local Bodge Engineering works, which is a specialist classic car service centre that focuses on 1950s and 1960s British sports cars, including MG and Jaguar.
Modified Saloon Cars.
Scribante’s outlandish Nissan GT-R was purpose-built for this year’s Hill climb, and it was one of the major attractions due to its radical World Time Attack-derived aerodynamics and around 1 200 kW of power reportedly on tap.
And his performance was as memorable as the car itself, obliterating the opposition with a best qualifying time of 38.551 seconds. Second fastest was Martin van Zummeren in his wild 2002 Nissan Skyline GT-R on 40.732 seconds, followed by Franco di Matteo 0.191 seconds adrift in his 2000 Jaguar V8 Supercar.
The challenge from reigning champion Wilhelm Baard never really materialised as his extensively reworked GT-R suffered a series of technical issues and he was ultimately well off the pace on 43.941 seconds, thus not making it through to the Class Finals. Scribante took the Class B5 victory with a time of 39.274 seconds – a new Hill climb class record 0.189 seconds quicker than Baard’s 2018 time.
Kyle Mitchell (2017 Nissan GT-R) was second on 40.892 seconds, with Van Zummeren taking the final step of the podium on 42.219 seconds.
In the do-or-die Top 10 Shootout which was concluded as the last glimmers of sunlight disappeared, Scribante was simply in a class of his own and comfortably took an extremely popular King of the Hill victory with a peerless run of 39.342 seconds – recording an average speed of 173.86 km/h from a standing start.
Single Seaters and Sportscars.
The combination of experienced gentleman racer Andre Bezuidenhout and the specialised Gould GR55 proved unbeatable yet again in Class C for Single Seaters and Sport Cars.
It was clear from the outset that Robert Wolk was doing everything he could to close the significant gap to Bezuidenhout from last year, but the Ferrari-powered 2009 A1 GP car just wasn’t quite up to the task.
With the track and ambient temperatures having dropped significantly for the final Top 10 Shootout, Bezuidenhout wasn’t able to close in on his 2018 record time of 35.528 seconds, ending up 1.2 seconds slower – but it was still enough to secure his third consecutive Class C King of the Hill title, achieving an average speed of 186.052 km/h.
“That was very tough as it was getting dark towards the end, and it was very tight between Robert and I in the end,” Bezuidenhout said. “I had hoped to break my record today, but the drop in temperatures made it impossible and our focus was on taking the win. The event was fantastic as always, and already I am looking forward to next year.”
Road-going Saloon Cars and Supercars
Reghard Roets joined the exclusive club of three-time Jaguar Simola Hill climb winners after not only dominating the event’s time sheets in Class A throughout the two days, but wrapping up the King of the Hill Top 10 Shootout with a new record time of 44.094 seconds in his bright yellow Nissan GT-R.
“I thought that I overcooked it at the end as the car got very out of shape, but I held it to the finish and I’m very happy,” an elated Roets said. “The Jaguar Simola Hill climb is the best weekend motorsport spectacle without a doubt, and every year it gets bigger and better. I’ll be on a high the whole year and can’t wait for the 2020 event!”
Spirit of Dave Charlton Award
The special ‘Spirit of Dave Charlton’ Award recognising the person that reflects South African race legend Dave Charlton’s spirit of impeccable attention to detail, meticulous preparation and commendable performance.For the 2019 King of the Hill, the award went to Martin van Zummeren, who completed his fifth Jaguar Simola Hill climb this year. He led a trio of wild ear-piercing Nissan Skyline GT-Rs that were crowd favourites throughout the event, with the other two cars driven by sons Wade and Jody.