Believe it or not, but the Simola Hillclimb isn’t only about ultra-race machinery or potent single-seat creations strutting their stuff up the illustrious stretch of tarmac. Suzuki impressed with their selection of vehicles which paced up the mountain over the weekend.
The Simola Hillclimb can feel unattainable for capable enthusiasts wanting to have a bit of fun with their cars on a limited budget. Images flood social media boasting purpose built creations vaguely resembling the production models on which they once were while single seat hill climb machines dominate the impressive timing displays with their unmistakable petroleum powered screams which reverberate through the hills of Knysna.
For the 2022 edition, Suzuki South Africa provided a different perspective to this. Other than being top tier sponsors for the weekend, with their blue and white tents sheltering marshalls and photographers from rain and shine, the Japanese brand which has enjoyed immeasurable success year-on-year in our local market had some of its own machinery at the illustrious event.
Brendon Carpenter, Brand Marketing Manager of Suzuki Auto South Africa reiterates this by stating: “We came to Simola to show that you don’t need to break the bank to have a truly competitive sports car, or great fun, on the hill climb.”
As with other motoring events, the hillclimb is divided into multiple categories which the dozens of entered cars fall into based on their age, displacement, modifications and so on. The Japanese manufacturer had four entries affiliated to its brand compete across the board during the event but two showroom floor Swift Sport models, adorned in blue with a striking livery above managed to impress along the 1,9 km Simola Hillclimb.
Competing in the A1 class, being categorised as a road going FWD 4 cylinder, drivers Reuben van Niekerk and Wesley Greybe managed to each set impressive sub minute runs. The clock stopped at 54,913 seconds for Reuben van Niekerk in the automatic while Wesley Greybe, in the manual, managed a time of 54,580 seconds and thrust himself onto the podium for the overall class.
Carpenter further added: “We knew that if our two racers set a time of less than one minute on the 1.9-kilometre track, we would have proved our point. Both drivers kept improving as the weekend progressed and surprised us – and the crowd – with final times below 55 seconds.” which was only six seconds off the class winning Porsche Cayman 718 S.
The two Swift Sports weren’t the only Suzuki representation over the course of the event. Suzuki power existed under the right pedal of Devin Robertson and Megan Verlaque, albeit slightly less production and road-legal oriented. Robertson returned to Simola with a Hayabuse-powered Radical SR1 which screamed to the top of the time sheets of one of the qualifying rounds and ended race day with a time of 39, 515. Megan Verlaque was an instant crowd pleaser in her diminutive Speedcar EXTREME which has a Suzuki GSX-R600 engine behind the cockpit. Its cute looks and miniature wheels were not indicative of the speed capable as she managed a final run of 46,828 during the final Top 10 shootout on Sunday.
For those itching to be entertained by two-wheels, Suzuki South Africa had spectators covered shipping in the first and only (for now) GSX-S1000 SGT which was driven in demonstration runs by Chris Kuun. He was accompanied by AJ Venter and his Isle of Man TT GSX-R1000 R in full race specification, although the front wheel rarely made contact with the road surface to the crowd’s delight.
Carpenter finished by saying: “Suzuki has a proud history at various hill climbs, most notably with Monster Tajima and his powerful modified Suzukis at Pikes Peak. Now we can add the sterling performance of the Suzuki Swift Sport to that legacy.”