The past weekend one of South Africa’s premier motorsport events took place in Knysna. Yes, it was the 10th anniversary of the Jaguar Simola Hill Climb at the Simola Golf and Country Estate and even though the rain resulted in a damp surface for most of Saturday, it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm and the excitement surrounding the event.
Following the Classic Friday event, Saturday and Sunday saw a wide variety of cars, from a modest (but tuned) Toyota Conquest to the ballistic Nissan GT-Rs, supercars and single-seaters tackling the hill.
Three local racing legends, Mike Briggs, our very own track tester Deon Joubert and Shaun Watson-Smith competed in Jaguar’s I-Pace EV400 electric vehicles. In the end, Briggs set the best time of 50,124 seconds, followed by Joubert just 0,485 seconds behind.
Joubert told us the I-Pace was an interesting vehicle to drive up the hill.
“It is a car that you need to learn. All three of us were playing with the regenerative settings, trying to see if we can go faster with it switched on or off. Another interesting fact is that its centre-of-gravity is very low, which makes it feel not unlike a proper performance car. But then it is also heavy, so you need to take all these facts into consideration. But, there is also the benefit of no gearchanges or challenges with the pull away," Joubert said.
Following a dry Sunday, the times started to tumble and in the end it was the Gould GR55 hillclimb car driven by Andre Bezuidenhout that won for the second year in a row (following his win the year before in a Dallara F1 car).
Bezuidenhout's winning time of 36,764 seconds (after qualifying at 35,778 seconds) was marginally slower than his record of 35,528 set in 2018, followed by Robert Wolk’s time of 36,920 in his Ferrari-powered 2009 A1 GP race car. The Gould’s average speed up the hill during the final run was a startling 186,052 km/h!
Bezuidenhout commented after the event: “That was very tough as it was getting dark towards the end and it was tight between Robert and I. I hoped to break my record today, but the drop in temperatures made it impossible and our focus was on taking the win. The event was fantastic as always and I am looking forward to next year.”
If you want to relive the action, the streamed videos can be watched on YouTube here.