Spectators might still be banned but the entire 2021 Simola Hillclimb in Knysna (September 3 – 5) will be livestreamed – and it promises to be spectacular with entries over subscribed.
Following numerous delays and postponements due to COVID-19, the Simola Hillclimb has attracted keen interest from Simola Hillclimb regulars and newcomers alike, and is set to deliver another spectacular event after last being staged in May 2019.
The official entry application process commenced inn April and closed at the end of May, with the available slots for Classic Car Friday and the two-day King of the Hill quickly oversubscribed.
“We have once again been impressed by the number and quality of entry applications received, and it’s clear that motorsport enthusiasts are desperate to get their cars out and competing once again after we were forced to cancel the 2020 event as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Simola Hillclimb sporting director, Geoff Goddard.
“In line with the current COVID-19 regulations we’ve had to meet the strict requirements from local and national government, as well as from Motorsport South Africa, to proceed with this year’s Hillclimb,” Goddard explains.
“Accordingly, spectators won’t be allowed, and the number of support and pit crew will be strictly controlled. However, that won’t stop us from hosting another spectacular event which will be livestreamed throughout the three days of action, showcasing the exceptional line-up of cars and drivers across the various categories and classes.”
To accommodate the impressive line-up, the organisers have increased the number of competitors taking on the challenge of Classic Car Friday (CCF), on September 3, from the normal 65 to 74 entrants.
The King of the Hill (KOH) format remains unchanged, comprising 84 entries. Saturday, September 4 is centred around the crucial practice sessions and first three qualifying sessions, with Sunday’s action focused on the final qualifying runs, class finals and all-or-nothing Top 10 Shootouts for the three categories: Single Seater and Sports Car, Modified Saloon Car, and Road and Super Car.
Ensuring there will be plenty to keep fans enthralled via the livestream and regular media and social media updates that will be provided throughout the event, all three of the reigning multiple Simola Hillclimb champions will be competing, including the event’s most successful driver to date – Franco Scribante.
The motor sport enthusiast and fervent competitor has won five of the past six Classic Car Friday (CCF) titles in his immaculately prepared 1970 Chevron B19, missing out on the 2015 title by a mere 0,157 seconds when he campaigned a 1974 Porsche 911 RSR and finished second to Hillclimb regular Charles Arton (1979 March 79B Formula Atlantic), who will also be in action at this year’s event. The combination of Scribante and his finely tuned Chevron B19 will once again prove a tough one to beat this year.
Along with his CCF successes, Scribante has notched up three KOH titles in a trio of formidable vehicles, with his first win in 2014 resulting from a clean sweep of that year’s event in the unbeatable Chevron B19. In 2016 Scribante claimed his second KOH crown in a thoroughly modernised 1972 Chevron B26, which he powered to a record-breaking time of 38,646 sec.
For 2019, Scribante raised the stakes in the Modified Saloon Car category by turning up with a radical, specially developed multi-winged Nissan R35 GT-R, and he proceeded to break the class record and took the title with a time of 39.342 sec on its first outing. It’s with this mighty machine that he will be returning to the 1,9 km Simola Hill in 2021, with the aim of breaking new records after two and a half years of further development on the car.
The Simola Hillclimb’s current outright record-holder, Andre Bezuidenhout, will also be one of this year’s most eagerly anticipated challengers. For Classic Car Friday he is set to compete in his powerful Martini-liveried 1974 Porsche 911 RSR.
Bezuidenhout has dominated King of the Hill over the past three years in the Single Seater and Sports Car category, first in his 1989 Dallara F189 Formula 1 race car in 2017, and then over the past two events in his specialised 2007 Gould GR55 hillclimb single-seater with which he holds the current record of 35,528 sec, achieved in 2018 with an average speed from a standing start over the course of 192,524 km/h! Interest will be at an all-time high to see if this impressive record will be broken.
Popular production car racing driver Reghard Roets will also be returning to the Simola Hill in 2021, hoping to extend his hat-trick of victories. The KwaZulu-Natal resident is making the switch from the Road and Super Car category which he has won for the past three years, and will now be taking on the big guns in the unlimited Modified Saloon Car class for full-blown race vehicles. Accordingly, Roets will be going head-to-head against Scribante and another three-time champion and former Group N racer, Wilhelm Baard – with all three protagonists competing in wild and immensely powerful Nissan R35 GT-Rs.
They won’t have things their own way, though, as there will be a formidable line-up of Simola Hillclimb regulars with equally exciting machines, as well as some interesting newcomers who will also be vying for glory.