The 13th edition of the Simola Hillclimb is shaping up to be a spectacle courtesy of both purpose-built machinery and a growing star-studded lineup. Mika Salo has been the latest driver to be confirmed for the event in addition to the Solberg twins!
It is only appropriate, having an ex-Formula 1 driver perform theatrics at an event that has single-seater behemoths charging up the hills. Despite having challenged at the turn of the century, the 56-year-old Finn won’t wield a single seater but instead a Mercedes-AMG A45S in the Road and Supercar category. In addition to providence to the top flight of motorsport, there are also world-famous entrants from the World Rally Championship as well as World Rallycross. Hailing from Scandinavia too, the Norwegian duo of Henning Solberg and younger brother Petter will also add to the star-studded lineup performing some blistering spectacles courtesy of Volkswagen South Africa.
“The local line-up of cars and drivers for the Simola Hillclimb has always been exceptional, and it is widely considered to be on par with some of the best hillclimb events around the world,” says Ian Shrosbree, MD of the Knysna Speed Festival which owns the Simola Hillclimb. “The global interest in our Hillclimb has grown significantly thanks to the vast international exposure we’ve received in recent years, culminating in drivers of international stature now being keen to participate in the event.”
Salo forms part of a two-car entry from Mercedes-Benz South Africa, with the Finnish driver competing in the Road Car and Supercar category in a showroom-spec 310 kW AMG A45S. His participation is supported by ATK Esports, and was facilitated by Patrick Walton from the Garden Route Film Commission who has worked with Salo on several occasions, and sees this as a great boost for the local film tourism industry.
Salo competed in 109 F1 races between 1994 and 2002, driving for Lotus, Tyrrell, Arrows, BAR, Ferrari, Sauber and Toyota. His most notable performances were the two podiums he scored for Ferrari in 1999 while standing in for the injured Michael Schumacher, which contributed to the team’s constructor’s championship win. The versatile Finn also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and claimed the GT2 class victory in 2008 and 2009, was part of the development program for the Maserati MC12 GT, raced in a number of the FIA GT events, dipped into the Australian V8 Supercars series, and won the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour in a Ferrari 458 GT3.
A few weeks ago, Volkswagen announced that they would be bringing WRC Champion Petter Solberg and the 2018 championship-winning Volkswagen Polo R WRX Supercar which will compete in the no-holds-barred Modified Saloon Car category. Now, his older brother Henning will join the burgeoning list of Scandinavian superstars piloting the road ready 235 kW Golf R, along with VW Motorsport’s local racing drivers, Jonathan Mogotsi and Daniel Rowe.
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