KNYSNA, South Africa, 3 September 2021 – Classic Car Friday at the 2021 Simola Hillclimb was full of action and a fair bit of drama, as the event saw a new record being established by Franco Scribante in his rapid Suzuki Hayabusa powered 1972 Chevron B26 in the Class Finals, having stopped the clock with a time of 39.553 seconds – achieving an average speed of 172.993 km/h from a standing start.
Initially it appeared that he had lost the prized Classic Conqueror title to Ian Schofield in the 1989 Minardi M189 Formula 1 car during the all-or-nothing Top 10 Shootout, as Scribante had a less-than-perfect final run for the day, crossing the line in 39.943 seconds. Schofield improved significantly throughout the event on his first attempt at the Simola Hill in this iconic car, and topped the timesheets with his quickest run yet when it counted in the Top 10 Shootout – recording a time of 39.599 seconds, which should have handed him the title.
However, his run was subsequently deleted after he clipped one of the track limit markers through the Esses at the top of the hill, resulting in the Classic Conqueror title going to Scribante for the sixth time – his fifth win in a row.
“My last run wasn’t my best performance, and the B26 was definitely slower than when we raced it in King of the Hill previously, so we’ve gone a bit backwards with the car,” Scribante said. “I don’t like winning this way, and I feel that Ian deserved the win as he gave his absolute best when it mattered, so I take my hat off to him for a great performance today.”
Schofield was disappointed with the outcome, but enjoyed his first Simola Hillclimb with the Minardi. “I drove the Top 10 final intending to keep it clean and avoid the markers as I hit one earlier in the day, but unfortunately with the size of the car and width of the tyres, it is incredibly difficult to judge at over 200 km/h,” he said. “The marker I hit was leaning out a bit more than the others, and I just clipped it. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but I had a lot of fun driving the F1 car.
“It’s by far the fastest race car I’ve driven up the Simola Hill, so it really got my attention,” he said. “We couldn’t get any hillclimb tyres for this car so had to use ordinary circuit racing tyres, and we struggled to get any heat into them. But it’s clear that the car has a lot of potential to go quicker in future.”
Multiple Simola Hillclimb King of the Hill champion Andre Bezuidenhout looked set to finish on the Classic Conqueror podium in his 1974 Porsche 911 RSR Martini, having set a scorching time of 45.980 seconds in the Class Finals. However, as he launched off the start line for the final run a side shaft snapped, bringing his final attempt to a premature end.
Chris Knezovich ultimately earned the runner-up spot for Classic Conqueror, powering the roaring 1967 McLaren M10B to the second-quickest time of 46.454 seconds. He finished just half a second ahead of Robert Wolk (47.039 sec) who couldn’t repeat his sub-37-second time set on his prior run in the 1987 Reynard Formula Ford.
Enzo Kuun also went slightly slower in the Top 10 at 47.793 seconds, after recording an exceptional Class Final time of 46.991 seconds in the 1969 Lola T70. Rui Campos was the fastest of the classic Porsche competitors, powering his 3.8-litre 1974 911 RSR to a time of 47.830 seconds, ending 0.884 seconds faster than Johan de Bruyn (1967 911 R 2.8).
As always, Graeme Nathan caused a stir with his wild burnouts in the stunning 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL – and he produced his best drive of the day at 49.266 seconds to finish seventh, with Josh Dovey rounding out the final results in eighth after managing an impressive time of 51.307 seconds in his diminutive 1.8-litre 1964 Ginetta G4R.
The Classic Conqueror title wasn’t the only glory up for grabs, with all of the competitors vying for victory in their respective classes too.
With his record-breaking run in the Class Final, Scribante took the trophy for Class H8. Enzo Kuun claimed the runner-up position with his fastest run for the day, stopping the clock at 46.991 sec, ahead of third-placed Rui Campos (47.2 sec).
Class H5 saw Ian Schofield take a well-earned trophy with a time of 41.175 seconds, ahead of Robert Wolk (46.926 sec). Despite retiring from the Top 10 Shootout, Andre Bezuidenhout was rewarded with the Class H7 win ahead of Graeme Nathan (49.749 sec) and Peter Lindenberg in a 1965 Shelby Ford Mustang GT350 (50.233 sec).
Class H6 went to Charles Needham in the monstrous 8.8-litre Shelby AC Cobra (55.801 sec), followed by Michelle Jean Hambly-Grobler in a 1990 Porsche 944 Turbo (58.083 sec). South African racing legend Geoff Mortimer qualified for the H6 final, but a dislodged steering wheel saw him running off the track at Turn 4 during his run up the hill, fortunately without injury to the driver or significant damage to the car.
Chris Knezovich took Class H4 in the 1967 McLaren M10B (46.605 sec), followed by the similar 1967 Porsche 911 R entries of Johan de Bruyn (49.503 sec) and Kobus Brits (51.620 sec). Clayton Kimber emerged victorious in Class H3 in his 2001 5.0-litre AC Cobra (52.336 sec) over Aaron van Schaik in a 1971 Porsche 911 RSR Outlaw (52.678 sec) and Ivan Marx in the spectacular Shelby Ford Mustang 500 (54.137 sec).
Well-known racer Barry Ingle took his iconic 1955 Porsche 550A Spyder to the Class H2 win with a time of 55.968 sec, ahead of Fred Phillips in a 1964 Morgan 4/4 (59.167 sec) and Dave Alexander’s 1964 Lotus Six (59.668 sec). The golden oldies in Class H1 were topped by Roger Lewis in a 1934 MG Special Hedgehog (1 min 12.606 sec), followed by Gino Noli with a time of 1 min 59.327 sec (1935 Austin 7 Ulster).
Spirit of Dave Charlton Award
The special ‘Spirit of Dave Charlton’ award at the Simola Hillclimb recognises the person that reflects South African race legend Dave Charlton’s spirit of impeccable attention to detail, meticulous preparation and commendable performance.
For this year’s Classic Car Friday, Steve Koterba, who owns the Checkered Flag Museum in Benoni, received the meritorious Spirit of Dave Charlton award for his exceptional dedication to keeping the spirit of legendary racing and road cars alive. Three of the cars kept at the museum were entered in the 2021 event, comprising the 1967 McLaren M10B driven by Chris Knezovich, the 1981 Porsche 924 driven by Geoff Mortimer and a 1969 Fiat 500 Abarth with Kurt Behm behind the wheel.