Simola Hillclimb went off last weekend with less fanfare (no spectators) but with no less action than in previous years.
After the 2020 Covid cancellation, drivers and their machines were raring to push their metal to the limit up the 1.9km Knysna hill. And records were set!
So, with no further ado, the iconic hillclimb has a new outright record – André Bezuidenhout powered his nippy 2007 Gould GR55 single seater to a blistering 34.9 second finish at an average speed of 195.6km/h. He slashed his own previous record by 0.563 sec.
It was a last ditch drive, in the last light of the Sunday, in the Top 10 Shootout. André says: “If we were 10 minutes later, I wouldn’t have been able to go that fast as the temperature began falling. So it was the perfect run in the end.”
Mad thing is he expects to go faster next year. He says: “Now we’re going to start working on the suspension, and we are looking at adding launch control for next year because at the moment it’s 100% my right foot, whereas a lot of the other cars have traction and launch control systems.”
Robert Wolk was second in the Top 10 Shootout in his Ferrari-powered A1 GP car, finishing in 37.2sec after continuously levelling up over the weekend.
The Modified Saloon Cars section saw a shake up as Pieter Zeelie powered his 2002 Toyota MR2 3.5-litre twin turbo V6 (just the description makes a person drool!) to a class dominating 40.4sec finish in the shootout.
It’s the sharp performance that gained him dominance over tough competitors Franco Scribante in his outrageous multi-winged GT-R, and Wade van Zummeren, who had some troubles in this, his first outing in the four-wheel drive 2002 Nissan R34 GT-R.
Wade leveraged his SupaDrift fame into a wild charge up the hill, destroying a couple of the track limit markers on the way and raising some dust. If there had been spectators, this run would have earned him crowd favourite.
Scribante did, however, set a new record in the class finals of 39.3sec.
In the Road-going Saloon Car and Supercars section, there was high drama.
Jean-Pierre van der Walt got his 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS sideways across the finish line, landing up in the trees after sliding on a patch of water during the warm-up session.
Luckily all that happened was a sliced rear tyre.
Not to be deterred, Jean-Pierre fought his way to a 45.8 sec time to take the class title.
In a sign of the times, the Virtual King of the Hill ran simultaneously with the real life version. Emile de Villiers, 14, ruled by taking four out of five wins from favourite Charl Wilken.
Emile didn’t drop a single beat in the three Sunday races.
Charl took one win on Sunday, but it was not enough to prevent Emile from victory.
Let’s hope next year is an in-person event, the crowds are baying for more motorsport action.