Competitors are lining up to be king of the hill
The annual Jaguar Simola Hillclimb in Knysna looks set to provide some intense action once again
Organisers of the annual Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, which will take place from May 4-6, say they have raised the bar in the Road Car and Supercar category, which is now dominated by a range of high-performance car brands.
"Our objective is to refresh the line-up for the hillclimb each year to provide an exceptional experience for the spectators and competitors, and this is evident in the superb range of exotics and performance cars that will take to the start line in the Road Car and Supercar category," says Geoff Goddard, the event’s sporting director.
The classes catering for standard production, road-legal vehicles have been narrowed for the ninth edition of the event, with the previous four-cylinder and six-cylinder naturally aspirated categories A1, A2 and A5 being dropped due to a lack of suitable applications.
Therefore, starting off with Class A3 for six-cylinder turbocharged or supercharged two-wheel drive vehicles, a formidable benchmark has been established with the rapid Noble M400 of Feroz Ebrahim, along with the highly-rated 375kW Alfa Romeo Guilia QV, driven by Piet Potgieter.
As the reigning Road Car and Supercar King of the Hill champion and record holder with a time of 43.955 seconds, Reghard Roets will be back to defend his title in the only Nissan GT-R competing this year in Class A4.
"I really enjoyed my first outing at the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb last year, and it was fantastic to win the King of the Hill title," Roets says.
"It’s an amazing event that is extremely competitive, and it’s certainly no walk in the park as there are a lot of serious cars and drivers out there.
"What the hillclimb lacks in distance it certainly makes up for in intensity, and blasting through the 1.9km course in just 43 seconds takes serious focus and commitment.
"The GT-R works exceptionally well in this environment, and hopefully we can score back-to-back victories for the team," Roets says.
With Class A5 falling away, next up are the normally aspirated V8-powered machines in A6, including a Ferrari 458 driven by Garth Mackintosh.
Class A7 will be the biggest and most fiercely contested category, with an almighty battle set to ensue between two of the biggest names in American V8 muscle. Ford Performance Centre’s supercharged Roush Ford Mustang will be driven by Barry Ingle. He will be going head to head with rival Shelby South Africa with its Mustang Super Snake and Paige Lindenberg.
Once again, the latest offering from BMW’s M division will be making its appearance with Rob Gearing behind the wheel of the recently launched all-wheel drive M5.
The British manufacturers will be well represented too, with Dawie Olivier powering the supercharged V8 Jaguar F-Type SVR. Joining him is Mark Cronje in a Jaguar XJR 575. Clive Geldenhuys will challenge in a twin-turbo W12-engined Bentley Continental GT.
The supercar brigade in A7 features three lightweight and quick McLaren 570S entries, driven by Ernst du Preez, Izak Spies and Jacques Wheeler.
The BMW i8 leads the charge for hybrid technologies, with Gordon Nicholson back again to mix it up with the conventionally-powered machines.
The i8 will not be the only green machine at the hillclimb. In a surprise announcement, Nissan SA says it has entered a Nismo Nissan Leaf international race car to be driven by Janus Janse van Rensburg, although it is unlikely to be entered in the same class as the road cars.
It is anyone’s guess whether the Leaf can provide a serious challenge to the raw power of many of the other race cars taking part in the event, but it definitely helps to set the scene for yet another exciting weekend.