SIMOLA HILL CLIMB - KNYSNA 2016
Event date: 6/7/8 May 2016 | Words: Colin
Mileman | Photos: Nishaam Ebrahim
KNYSNA, South Africa,
8 May 2016 – Two thrilling days of unprecedented
motor racing action culminated in the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb
crowning is first-ever two-time King of the Hill winner, as Franco
Scribante produced a dominant victory and set an all-new record
of 38.646 sec.
He added to his impressive credentials in this signature racing
weekend, repeating the ‘double’ of winning both the
Classic Car Friday and King of the Hill in 2014, by doing the
same again in 2016, the seventh running of the Hillclimb.
The dramatic finale took place in front of a record Sunday crowd
for the event which in seven runnings has soared its way up to
being arguably South Africa’s largest single annual motorsport
According to main organiser Ian Shrosbree, last year’s record
attendance of 12 200 spectators over the three days of the Hillclimb
has been broken. “We don’t have the final numbers
yet but we definitely passed the 13 000 mark this year, reinforcing
the huge popularity of this event,” he said.
Despite a formidable challenge from outgoing champion Des Gutzeit
in his radical 1 500 hp Nissan GT-R, Scribante proved unbeatable
in the crucial Top 10 King of the Hill Shootout and became the
first-ever winner of ‘The Jody’, a special hand-crafted
wooden trophy introduced this year, inspired by SA’s only
Formula 1 champion, Jody Scheckter.
His sheer determination, matched to the astonishing pace of the
lightweight 1972 Chevron B26, led to the fastest time of the weekend
in the final one-lap run. He covered the 1.9 km course 1.678 sec
faster than Gutzeit at a remarkable average speed of 176.991 km/h
from a standing start.
In the final reckoning it was a perfect weekend for Scribante,
as he also claimed his second Classic Conqueror title on Classic
Car Friday in the 1970 Chevron B19, repeating his clean sweep
of the 2014 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb.
The record crowd witnessed motorsport’s premier spectacle
unfold on the challenging 1.9 km Simola Hill, with Sunday’s
perfect weather creating ideal conditions for the teams.
However, King of the Hill wasn’t without its fair share
of drama, as Scribante’s charge nearly ended in disaster
when the suspension failed on the Chevron during the fourth qualifying
session on Sunday morning, sending the car off the course at high
speed at the end of the main straight.
The Scribante Racing team put a Herculean effort in to get the
Chevron repaired and back in contention for the sixth and final
qualifying run. “We had a good weekend right until the crash,
having set a best time of 38.8 sec in Q3, and I was very nervous
going out on the final qualifying run to check if the car was
alright,” a relieved Scribante said.
“When Des went out and did the 40.9 sec I thought the track
had become slower, and I wasn’t sure I could break 40 sec
“I decided that final shootout would be do-or-die stuff,
and I would either be on the top step of the podium or in the
bushes. Fortunately we got it all together and managed to set
a new record on the last run. I really want to thank my entire
team for their hard work in preparing and then fixing the car.”
“To score the double is amazing, and this is what the history
books are made off,” he added. “I know you need a
bit of luck but I’ll take it any way it comes, and this
really is a dream result.”
Gutzeit was gracious in defeat with a best time of 40.324 sec.
“We gave it everything we could, and I simply couldn’t
go any faster,” he conceded. “The car performed faultlessly,
but there was simply no way we could match Franco’s pace
in our heavier tin-top car.
“We’ll see how it goes next year, but once again congratulations
to the organisers for putting on a great weekend of racing.”
Other than Gutzeit in the rip-roaring GT-R, there was also a strong
challenge from two single-seater contenders during the practice
and qualifying – both newcomers to the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb.
Multiple single-seater champion Robert Wolk set an impressive
pace right from the start in a 2004 Formula Renault V6, and managed
consistent sub-40 sec times in all four of the final qualifying
sessions, with a best of 39.538 sec.
Unfortunately, he ran wide in Turn 2 in the Class Finals and crashed
heavily into the tyre barriers. He was unhurt, but this put an
abrupt end to his weekend.
André Bezuidenhout was equally spectacular in the popular
Dallara Formula 1 car, qualifying third for the Top 10 shootout
on 39.781 sec. Sadly a failed engine crankshaft sensor brought
his campaign to a halt during Q5.
“I had a fantastic weekend, and there was very little between
Franco, Robert and I as we were all in the 39s this morning,”
“It’s disappointing to go out this way, but where
do you find a replacement Magneti Marelli crank sensor that was
made in 1989? Certainly not in Knysna, and even if we had one,
you have to take the engine out to replace it,” he mused.
“It’s very unfortunate but the whole event was superb.
I’ll be back next year, you can bet on it!”
Anton Cronje wrapped up the King of the Hill three-place podium
in his modified Subaru Impreza WRX (42.564 sec), ousting fourth-placed
Wilhelm Baard in the factory-backed Nissan GT-R by just 0.181
Jaki Scheckter was the class of the all-new SuperCar Shootout
field for showroom-specification sports and supercars in the factory-backed
Nissan GT-R. He set an exceptional Top 10 SuperCar Shootout time
of 43.591 sec – and was elated with the victory.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win the new SuperCar Shootout,”
he said. “The car worked perfectly the whole weekend, and
I have to thank Nissan for giving me this opportunity to compete
Dawie Olivier brought some home glory for the Hillclimb’s
title sponsor, Jaguar, by powering the stunning F-TYPE R Coupé
AWD to second overall on 45.183 sec. Ernst du Preez was third
in his McLaren 650s (45.826 sec).
As one of the most experienced, professional and competitive drivers
in the King of the Hill field, Geoff Mortimer was awarded the
newly introduced ‘KOH Spirit of Dave Charlton’ floating
trophy. This original cup was won by legendary six-times SA single-seater
champion Charlton at the last Formula 1 event held in Zimbabwe
As the 2010 Hillclimb winner, 79-year-old Mortimer remains one
of the event’s fastest drivers – and his commitment
to the sport is unmatched. He looked set for a strong performance
this year and was one of the contenders for the Top 10 King of
the Hill shootout in his modified Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
An electrical fault that plagued his Saturday session, and saw
him working along with the team late into the night, unfortunately
returned today. As a result, he was only able to complete two
of the day’s qualifying sessions for the shootout, putting
in a best time of 44.119 sec.
“Geoff is renowned for his meticulous hands-on approach
towards vehicle preparation, his superb attention to detail and
amazing speed behind the wheel,” said the Hillclimb’s
sporting director, Geoff Goddard. “He is a true gentleman
and embodies the spirit of motor racing at is finest, making him
a deserving winner of the inaugural KOH Spirit of Dave Charlton
For more information on the event visit: www.jaguarsimolahillclimb.co.za
See more action online:
- Website: www.jaguarsimolahillclimb.co.za
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/KnysnaSpeedFestival
- Twitter: @SpeedFestivalCX
- Instagram: JaguarSimolaHillclimb
- YouTube: KnysnaSpeedFestival
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