Building on last year’s success, the 2015 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb on the outskirts of Knysna in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, showed once again why it is fast-becoming the premier highlight on the South African motorsport calendar.
- Best-ever attendance, with more than 12 000 spectators over the three-day event
- Jaguar XE unveiled to packed crowd
- Ashley Oldfield crowned winner of 2015 media challenge
The tight, twisting 1.9km section of road leading to the five-star Simola Club and Country Estate was visited by more than 12 000 spectators over three days. All had come to witness the country’s top names in motorsport unleash thousands of horsepower and compete for the coveted Classic Conquerer and King of the Hill titles.
“Seeing the passion of these competitors, and the enthusiasm from the local crowds, is what the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb is all about,” said Lisa Mallett, Marketing and Communications Director at Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa. “An annual platform to attract the best cars from around the country in an idyllic setting makes the event a social must-do, not only for enthusiasts, but for everyone who appreciates the finer things in life.”
One of the prime attractions for the public was the first close-up look at Jaguar’s all-new XE. The Jaguar XE redefines the concept of the sports saloon. Its lightweight construction, streamlined styling, luxurious interior and outstanding ride and handling will make it the driver’s car in its class.
The rear-drive XE’s innovative aluminium architecture contributes to the dynamic package, powered by a range of diesel engines that will make it the most economical Jaguar to date; or Jaguar’s supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine from the acclaimed Jaguar F-TYPE, which will allow the XE S to reach 100km/h in just 5.1 seconds.
Only going on sale in September, the XE gave the Knysna crowd a firm look at Jaguar’s future, while Classic Friday provided a nostalgic look back at the brand’s rich performance pedigree among a host of thoroughbred machinery.
Gentlemen racing at its best
Classic Friday kicked off 48 iconic pre- and post-war road and race cars being driven to their fullest potential – and sometimes beyond – by some seriously committed drivers.
Showing the diversity of history in motion, the grid ranged from a 1929 Bugatti to ultimate Classic Conquerer title-winner Charles Arton’s 1979 March 79B Formula Atlantic single-seater.
Among the list of accomplished classics were two Jaguar D-type racecars, driven by Dick Sorensen and Keith van Heerden. These iconic Jaguars won the famous Le Mans 24 Hour race three years’ running from 1955 to 1957. Already then, Jaguar was innovating, the successful sports car featuring an aluminium monocoque construction and disc brakes.
Going two-by-two, the pair of E-types paid tribute to Jaguar’s current F-TYPE – seen in action over the weekend – while the preview of the all-new XE was prefaced by the straight-six howl of the sports-sedan of the time: the Jaguar MkII – itself a successful British Touring Car racer in period.
Saturday and Sunday provided a playground for more than 80 competitors vying to see who could conquer the Simola Hill in the shortest possible time and be crowned King of the Hill. The pits hosted cars of every kind, ranging from stock standard and lightly-modified road cars, all the way to extremely fast racecars and purpose-built hillclimb specials.
Piloting the fastest of these specialised machines was Desmond Gutzeit, who took top honours in his R32 Nissan Skyline GTR, in a new record time.
It was only fitting that other Jaguar models featured prominently on the weekend. Running up the hill were two F-TYPE R Coupés, driven by members of the Jaguar team. Barry Ingle represented Jaguar Experience, while Jaguar Land Rover South Africa (JLRSA) was represented by the fastest man in a production car – driving his land speed record-setting car – Dawie Olivier.
Despite being in completely stock-standard, showroom condition cars fitted with road tyres, the duo’s efforts were enough to earn them a spot in the class finals.
Crowds were also treated to the sight and sounds of the mighty black XJR prepared by the JLRSA technical team and sponsored by Castrol. This supercharged beast made short work of the tyres as Rory Beattie, Customer Services Director at JLRSA, powered up the hill. A work in progress, Beattie and the Beast will be back in 2016 to put in some serious times.
Even more to look forward to next year
After a weekend of serious racing, horsepower, fine dining and fun, the sun set on the second iteration of the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb. While the grandstands, hospitality tents, and race cars were packed away, the fans have it all to look forward to again next year when the event returns to the Simola hill with even greater experiences to be enjoyed.