- Exceptional variety of legendary race cars, from Bugatti Type 35b Grand Prix to iconic Ford Sierra XR8
- Two Chevron B19 entries and a pair of March Formula Atlantic racers up the ante
- 32 marques spread across eight classes, 64 competitors
KNYSNA, South Africa, 10 March, 2017 – For motoring and motorsport enthusiasts, their love of the automobile has been fostered over years of dreaming about iconic cars and the drivers that made them famous. Traditionally relegated to memories and museums, there’s one place in South Africa where these legends come alive again – and that’s at the annual Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, which takes place in Knysna from 4 to 7 May, 2017.
From the early days of Grand Prix racing with the Bugatti Type 35b to the daring antics of the Bentley Boys and their remarkable cars, the legendary Ford GT40 that snatched Le Mans victory from the all-dominant Ferraris, the giant-slaying abilities of the original Mini which, against all odds, won the Monte Carlo Rally to one of the most successful racing cars of all time, the Porsche 911, each has defined an era.
Off the track, the sumptuous elegance of the Jaguar E-type rewrote the rulebooks for automotive design, leading a barrage of British sports cars that followed from the likes of MG, Triumph and Austin Healey.
And, across the Atlantic, the Americans produced a muscle car feast like no other, churning out iconic models such as the Shelby Mustang, Pontiac GTO and ever-popular Chevrolet Corvette.
As the opening stanza of the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, Classic Car Friday genuinely has become a motoring revival like no other, gathering a feast of automotive greats that puts it on a par with some of the world’s best Hillclimb events – as confirmed by its nomination in the Motorsport event of the Year category of the British based 2016 International Historic Motoring Awards (IHMA) competition.
This May fans can look forward to a total of 64 competitors taking to the start line to compete in the numerous classes of the Classic Conqueror. In keeping with the spirit of Classic Car Friday, competitors, guests and spectators are invited to dress in period clothing from the 1940s to the 1970s, thus adding an even more authentic atmosphere to the event.
Despite many of the cars being ultra-rare and expensive, drivers young and old have adrenaline coursing through their veins and go hell-for-leather in the search for class or overall victory – the latter carrying the prestigious title of Classic Conqueror.
No less than 32 marques will be represented in the line-up, including the likes of Jaguar, Bugatti, Riley, Bentley, Aston Martin, MG, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo, BMW, Lancia and Lotus – and that’s just for the road-based cars. The single-seater and sportscar category includes illustrious names from the past such as Chevron, March, Lola and Van Diemen.
There are eight classes for Classic Car Friday, starting off with H1 for pre-war cars. Rodney Green’s stunning 1929 Bugatti Type 35b is once again the oldest car in the field, having competed in every Knysna Hillclimb event to date, and is joined by a 1935 Bentley Derby owned and driven by Graham Blackbeard.
Another notable entry is Hannes Pickard’s extremely rare 1934 Aston Martin Ulster, ranked as one of the most sought-after of all pre-War Aston Martins. Only 31 genuine Ulsters were produced, including 10 team cars, to celebrate Aston Martin’s 1-2-3 class victory at the RAC Tourist Trophy at Ards in Ulster, Ireland. It will be reviving the intriguing 1.5-litre British sports car battle of the period with Roy Jones’ 1935 Riley TT Sprite Replica.
Combined, classes H2 and H3 account for the largest number of entries, covering pre-1966 and pre-1975 road cars, respectively. The British sports car marques dominate, along with some formidable regular entries such as Norman Frost’s rapid 1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SE, a brace of Porsches and Ford contenders in the form of a 1965 Lotus Cortina and the 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500.
Classes H4 and H5 feature pre-1966 and pre-1980 race cars, including single-seaters, sports cars and GTs. Current reigning double champion Franco Scribante will once again be the man to beat in his astonishingly quick 1970 Chevron B19, with a similar 1971 model added to the line-up this year, driven by Peter Jenkins.
Two March Formula Atlantic single-seaters will take to the Simola Hill this year, with 2015 winner Charles Arton returning in his 1979 model, and Ian Schofield in the 1977 model that made its debut last year.
Pre-1985 racing saloon cars are grouped in H6 for four-cylinder engines, and H7 for the big-bang contenders. The big guns include Peter Lindenberg’s thunderous 1968 Bob Olthoff replica Ford Fairlane V8, daughter Paige in a 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350 and circuit racing ace Graeme Nathan in the glorious sounding 1972 BMW 3.0 CSI. Also watch out for rally champion Enzo Kuun giving it stick in the sleek 1972 Datsun 240z.
Ford fans will no doubt be delighted to see the debut of one of the original Ford Sierra XR8 race cars, prepared for the Hillclimb by Willie Hepburn. This car was raced in the 1985 Group 1 championship by John Gibb alongside Serge Damseaux in an identical car.
Wrapping up the mix is Class H8 for recreated cars that confirm to the original silhouette, but rely on modern running gear. Highlights include Richard Evans in the ever-popular 1959-based Chevrolet Corvette Roadster, three Ford GT40s and a 1972 Porsche 911 RSR.
There simply is no better way to start a weekend packed with adrenaline-fuelled action – it really is the stuff dreams are made of!
Motorsport enthusiasts can secure their places for the 2017 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb as admission tickets are already available at www.itickets.co.za, a convenient online portal where all Day, Weekend and Pit Access tickets can be purchased.