Charles Arton, driving a 1979 March 79B Formula Atlantic race car, was crowned Classic Conqueror for 2015 on the opening day of the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb.
Having set a time of 45.894 sec on the challenging 1.9 km hillclimb course leading up to the Simola Golf and Country Estate, Arton ousted 2014 champion Franco Scribante (1974 Porsche 911 RSR) by a mere 0.157 sec.
Ross Lazarus, competing in a 1965 Ford GT40, was third in the Classic Conqueror final Top 10 shoot-out with a time of 47.390 sec.
The action kicked off in mild conditions, with a slight chill in the air matched to bright and sunny conditions early on – only for the clouds and cooler temperatures to settle in for the afternoon.
The starting list featured a dazzling array of entries, encompassing 48 iconic road and race cars spanning five decades. From the oldest car, a stunning 1929 Bugatti Type 35b Grand Prix car, through to the sumptuous 1957 Jaguar D-Types and topped off with Arton’s 1979 March, there was plenty to dazzle and delight the crowds of enthusiastic spectators.
After the three opening practice sessions in the morning, the drivers had a total of three qualifying runs to post their fastest times. The three quickest times for each category progressed to the Class Final, and also determined the top 10 competitors that would compete in the all-or-nothing one-lap dash for the Classic Conqueror title.
Running in reverse order for the grand finale, Peter Lindenberg set off first in his 1968 Ford Fairlane V8, setting a benchmark time of 54.157 sec, which placed him 7th in the final results. Malcolm Uytenbogaardt was next in his Ford V8-powered 1965 Sunbeam Tiger, crossing the line on 55.226 sec to finish 9th, followed by Gavin Rooke (1970 Porsche 911) on 54.736 sec for 8th place.
Jan Vosloo took it up a notch in his 1973 Porsche 911 RS on 52.936 sec to finish 6th. Kobus Brits was due to set off next in his 1967 Porsche 911R, but failed to start the Classic Conqueror shootout due mechanical issues after he spun off during a qualifying run earlier in the day, fortunately without major damage.
Antony Ashley (Lotus 7) recorded a scorching time of 48.715 sec to push him into 4th overall, while Brent Watts (1973 Porsche 911 RSR) slotted in behind Ashley with a time of 49.186 sec. Ross Lazarus powered his GT40 to third overall with a time of 47.390 sec.
Ultimately it was down to the two fastest cars throughout the day, Scribante’s 911 RSR and Arton’s Formula Atlantic single-seater. Arton blitzed the course on a scintillating time of 45.894 sec after a perfect run.
Scribante had the bit between his teeth for the exhilarating last blast, but his Porsche just wasn’t quick enough to beat the March, and he had to settle for second overall with a time of 46.051 – a scant 0.157 sec behind Arton.
Capetonian Arton was elated with the victory, especially considering he acquired the ex-Derek Daly March 79B in December last year, and the Hillclimb was only his third time behind the wheel.
“My last run went beautifully, despite having trouble with the car the whole day,” Arton said. “The thrust bearing on the clutch went on the first practice run, so I’ve been launching the car gingerly off the line each time.
“Ian Scheckter gave me some pointers in the pits for the final run, and it was a case of either give it everything or I would land up blowing the clutch completely. Fortunately the pull-off worked perfectly and I got the engine straight into the 7 000 to 9 000 r/min rev band off the line which made it possible to record my fastest time.
“The March is like a surgical instrument,” he said. “It’s so precise and actually rides the bumps really well, and the gearing was perfect for the hillclimb course. It was a fantastic day and well done to the organisers for a great event,” Arton said.
Release compiled by Colin Mileman