Records were broken, milestones were achieved, and the racing action most certainly didn’t disappoint at the 12th edition of the Simola Hillclimb this past weekend (6-9 May).
May brought with it bouts of cold and wet conditions, which started to announce its presence on Saturday, where more than 60% rain was expected throughout the day. Heavy overnight rain affected the early practice sessions, and persistent drizzle kept everyone on their toes until the weather cleared up by mid-morning.
The racing festivities got underway with Classic Car Friday, where Ian Schofield took the Classic Conqueror title in Class 77B with a best time of 42.3. For this year’s Classic Car Friday, racing legend Peter Lindenberg received the Spirit of Dave Charlton award, reflecting South African race legend Dave Charlton’s spirit of impeccable attention to detail, meticulous preparation, and commendable performance.
The vehicle line-up was as star-studded as the driver one, where everything from a multi-winged Nissan GT-R, a pair of all-electric Volkswagen e-Golf’s, and ex-Formula one vehicles came out to play.
Saturday saw plenty of traffic around the pit and spectator area (for those who had the appropriate access) as teams got their cars ready for the ensuing practice and qualifying rounds. Andre Bezuidenhout, in particular, had trouble in his first qualifying session with the rain making the surface greasy and a bump causing damage to his car, even though he ended the run with a time of 37.4 seconds which is 2.5 seconds off of his record, time from last year (34.9 seconds).
The crowds came out in numbers and could be seen setting up their camping chairs from a suitable viewing point – compared to having virtually none present in the previous editions due to the onset and restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic. There was basically a refreshment and food stall on each corner for those needing to tame their respective pangs.
The competition was posting incredible times on Saturday with each qualifying run, and it was clear that the cars were getting faster and, with conditions, improving – slowly. The all-electric class was a new addition that featured a pair of 100kW VW e-Golfs, driven by VW’s GTC factory drivers Daniel Rowe and Jonathan Mogotsi, and a BMW i4 M50 (driven by Ciro de Siena) that was specially flown in for the Simola Hillclimb, ahead of its local launch. The latter set a new all-electric vehicle record with a time of 49.231 seconds and finished eighth overall in the Top 10 Shootout.
With the event just concluded, Andre Bezuidenhout vowed to be back and do it all again in 2023 and be even more competitive, saying, “With that 34.1 second time, a 33 must be possible, so I’m definitely coming back.”
There is always next year for those who unfortunately missed out because it definitely is a bucket list event for any petrolhead to attend in South Africa.
Gumtree put together a list of the 10 fastest competitors in the Single Seater and Sports Car Shootout:
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