Dubbed South Africa’s premier motorsport event, the 13th edition of the Simola Hillclimb proved to be an action-packed affair with sponsor Suzuki showing what their Swift Sport is capable of.
Sponsoring the event for a third consecutive year, Suzuki Auto South Africa took the opportunity to demonstrate exactly what the affordable Swift Sport was capable of. No stranger to the hills of Simola, the team at Suzuki Auto hoped to improve on their previous years time of 54,580 and the hot hatch was looking promising ahead of Sunday when Wesley Greybe managed 54,395 during Saturdays afternoon qualifiers.
“We were hoping to break the sub 54 second mark but the weather had other ideas.” – Chelsy Pinto, product planning and sales development at Suzuki and race team manager for the event.
Overnight rainfall made morning conditions less than ideal with the cool and still damp portion of road providing far less grip than the day before. Before the start of the class finals, a brisk stint of rain meant that any chance of Suzuki Auto South Africa’s hopes were quashed.
When all was said and done, the frugal hatch driven by Greybe could only manage a 1:00,809 in the class final, second to the brand new Honda Civic Type R (FL5) piloted by veteran Deon Joubert. The podium places were rounded up by the second Swift Sport driven by Sudhir Matai while the third model at the hands of Kumbi Mtshakazi was unable to qualify for the heat following a brush with the tyre barriers!
— Suzuki SA (@Suzuki_ZA) May 7, 2023
Despite this, all three hatchbacks proved their mettle throughout the weekend, with the fastest of the trio marginally behind its fellow Japanese adversary. Serving the prestigious and now globally renowned motoring event, Suzuki Auto South Africa further adds they plan to return in 2024 and continue their efforts in Knysna at a tier 1 sponsor.
While the three hatches were the main event, there were other Suzuki-powered vehicles in action during the weekend. In the King of the Hill competition for single-seater racing cars, two cars raced with Suzuki power.
Devin Robertson competed in class C5 with his Radical SR1. This custom-built sports car is fitted with a Suzuki Hayabusa engine and at the 2023 Simola Hillclimb Robertson set a best new time of 40,794 seconds. This earned him the second place in the Single Seater and Sports Prototype Shootout for the King of the Hill title.
Megan Verlaque returned to Simola with her Speedcar Extreme. Her compact racing car is fitted with a 1 000 cc Suzuki motorcycle engine. Verlaque set a final best time in qualifying of 44,710 seconds. Suzuki also continued its tradition of introducing a new motorcycle to the fans at Simola. This year, the company unveiled its brand-new Suzuki V-Strom 1050 DE dual-purpose motorcycle.
With the growing list of Suzuki vehicles entering the event, the automaker is also committed to continuing their endeavours in Knysna going forward publically confirming attendance for 2024: “We joined the Simola Hillclimb in 2021 amid restrictions on fans and the movement of people. From that very first event, we committed to supporting the Hillclimb and its ethos of providing an exciting and accessible motor-racing event,” says Brendon Carpenter, Brand Marketing Manager of Suzuki Auto South Africa.
“This is the first year that crowds were allowed back with no restrictions, and it is fantastic to see the event return to its former glory. As Suzuki, we are also heartened by the additional support that the Hillclimb has received from other vehicle manufacturers and sponsors.”
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