24 May Jaguar Simola Hillclimb 2017
This year’s 8th running of the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb 2017 attracted an estimated record 15 000 spectators over the duration of the weekend. They were treated to an awe-inspiring line-up of cars, ranging from showroom-specification hot hatches to exotic supercars and some of the wildest track-attack machines in South Africa. The driver line-up was equally noteworthy, including multiple circuit racing and rally champions, motoring celebrities, as well as guest drivers from the US.
Classic Car Friday had its usual mix of road race and sports cars ranging from Rod Green’s 1929 Bugatti 35B GP driven by Stuart Grant, to Nicholas Sherwood’s 1984 Ford Sierra XR8. After a very busy day’s competition between the 64 cars entered, the class winners were Grant, Malcolm Uytenbogaardt 1965 Sunbeam Tiger, Gavin Rooke 1970 Porsche 911, Chris Champion 1959 Austin-Healey 3000, Franco Scribante 1970 Chevron B19, Trevor Tuck 1973 Alfa Romeo Giulia Rally, Brent Watts 1971 Porsche 911 Carrera, and Justin Price 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupé. The 10 fastest cars competed for the Classic Conqueror title and this went to Scribante with a time of 42,795 seconds with last year’s winner Charles Arton’s March 79B Formula Atlantic second (44,925).
The Saturday and Sunday were taken up by a full field of 83 moderns split into 18 classes with practice, qualifying and shootouts for class and category honours. An estimated record weekend crowd of 15 000 spectators witnessed some intense battles in some of the classes, most notably in Class C1 between Andre Bezuidenhout in his ex-Andrea de Cesaris 1989 Formula 1 Dallara and previous winner Franco Scribante in his screaming Suzuki V8-engined Chevron B26, the spoils eventually going to Bezuidenhout. The other big battle was in Class B2 between another former winner Desmond Gutzeit’s highly-modified 1993 Nissan GT-R and Wilhelm Baard in his radical carbon-fibre bodied 2014 Nissan GT-R, Gutzeit finally winning by just two-tenths of a second.
In the King of the Hill shootouts, Andre Bezuidenhout claimed Single Seater and Sports Car category, setting an all-new hillclimb record of 37,695 seconds. Wilhelm Baard turned the tables on Gutzeit to secure his second title in the Modified Saloon Car category with new tin-top record of 39,892 seconds. Reghard Roets snatched the Road and Supercar title on his debut outing driving a 2015 Nissan GT-R with a time of 43,955 seconds – a new record for road-legal cars. Finally, Peter Kaye-Eddie was honoured with the ‘Spirit of Dave Charlton Award’ for his exceptional commitment to motor sport.
Tragically, after the event Arton’s March along with Anton Rollino’s MG B GT and four V8 Master cars that took part in the King of the Hill competition were burnt out and destroyed. It appears as though one of the V8s caught fire on the transporter that was taking the cars back to Cape Town, and the flames quickly engulfed the whole carrier.