Jaguar Simola Hillclimb 16th – 18th May 2014
11 five timers line up for this ‘must-do’ event
From 16th to 18th May the sound of high performance engines and tortured rubber will mark the fifth running of the Simola Hillclimb in Knysna, now with the added lustre of a three-year title partnership from Jaguar. Originally the brainchild of former racer Ian Shrosbree and motoring enthusiast Francis Cusens when it was first held in 2009, it is now regarded as one of the ‘must do’ events on the South African motorsport calendar by spectators and competitors alike.
One of the symptoms of popularity which has followed the challenge of ‘The Hill’ has been the growing entry lists; so much so that for the first time organisers have had to cap the number of competitors in both the Classic Car competition on the Friday (May 16) and the King of the Hill which runs on the Saturday and Sunday (May 17 and 18). There is now a limit of 50 competing cars on the opening day and a capacity of 80 entrants for the King of the Hill shootout.
Another measurement of the appeal and challenge of beating the rest up the Simola climb is the fact that no fewer than 11 of this year’s contenders have competed in all four of the events held so far.
First among these unique “fifers” are the local father and son combination of Willem Bower in an iconic 16 valve Toyota Conquest and his son Jacques Bower in an interesting 2.0-litre Ford Escort Mk2 who attract substantial home-crowd support. Both are well known for their motorsport enthusiasm via the family-run towing service which often provides official service to rallies and other motorsport events along the Garden Route.
Next is Christopher Symons who still calls Knysna home even though his business interests saw him move away from the lagoon haven earlier this year. His weapon of choice is a 1996 Honda civic 2.0-litre V-Tec that morphed from an everyday road car into sensible street legal race car in a project that lasted seven years and was used as a “Lauren, will you marry me” message carrier at the 2012 event.
Another five-timer is Nico van Rensburg who made a name for himself racing in the WesBank Modified Saloon Championship during the 1980s, then retired from racing when he escaped the Johannesburg rat-race to open a tyre fitment centre in George. The original Knysna hillclimb tempted him out of retirement and although his Volkswagen Scirocco was quite badly damaged in an accident at the last event, it is now once again a well sorted and very rapid contender.
Also from George is orthopaedic surgeon Tom Barrett who has a 20-valve Toyota 4A-GE powered lightweight Lotus 7 replica which he bought last year. Sensible engine modifications have been carried out, like the fitment of a dry sump, and he is now a regular competitor in the Sports/GT events at Killarney.
Shane Naidu is a big Audi fan in Cape Town and is very active in the Audi Club and in the past competed in an Audi S2. His other passion is Mitsubishi and he will be out in his well tuned Evo 9 which he used in the 2012 event.
From the Ceres region of the Western Cape is a triple Hillclimb class winner and multiple regional rally champion Johann Zulch who has more than 30 years of motorsport competition. He will once again be behind the wheel of his well used but immaculately prepared 1990 BMW 325 which is very much standard apart from a limited slip diff.
Classic car enthusiast Di Dugmore is the only lady racer to have competed in all the events to date and her tomboyish elegance hides a feisty determination in the cockpit. This year the Hout Bay based radiographer will be at the wheel of her cherished Austin Healey Sprite Mark I, commonly referred to as a ‘Frogeye’ Sprite in classic circles.
Dave Alexander is another well known collector of classic cars. He makes his home on the Atlantic Seaboard and his choice of machinery for the hillclimb is an Alfa powered 1964 LDS Formula One which was built in South Africa.
Hailing from White River in Mpumalanga Rodney Green is widely known in classic car circles and owns an impressive collection of cars. He will be driving his unique 2.0-litre Formula Two Cooper Bristol which dates back to 1952.
And completing the line-up of those who will become five-timers in this year’s event is Fred Phillips has seen the classic motoring scene from behind the wheel and behind his desk as former publisher of Classic and Performance Car Africa. This year he will in an immaculately prepared Austin Healey 3000.
Although no announcement has yet been made, it is believed the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb organisers are developing a special loyalty recognition programme for those who have “done it all” in the event that is rapidly gaining a unique place in South African motorsport.