Two new King of the Hill champions and new record set at 2024 Simola Hillclimb

  • Robert Wolk earns first King of the Hill title in Single Seater, Sports Car and Sports Prototypes category with Infinity Indycar V8-powered Pillbeam MP58
  • Dawie Joubert powers his way to first Modified Saloon Car victory in Ferrari-powered Lotus Exige after intense battle and lots of drama amongst top contenders
  • JP van der Walt secures fourth consecutive Road Car and Supercar title, setting a new class A record in Porsche 911 Turbo S

KNYSNA, South Africa, 5 May 2024 – There was lots of adrenaline-fuelled action and drama at the 14th running of the Simola Hillclimb which took place in Knysna from 3 to 5 May 2024. Robert Wolk earned his first King of the Hill title in the Single Seater, Sports Car and Sports Prototypes category, while Dawie Joubert claimed the Modified Saloon Car win for the first time. JP van der Walt entrenched his domination of the Road Car and Supercar category by taking his fourth consecutive title.

After several years as one of the Simola Hillclimb’s leading single-seater competitors, Wolk and the InvestChem team battled through a series of technical niggles throughout the weekend with the 1989 Pillbeam MP58 – a specialised hillclimb car, albeit 35 years old, which is now powered by a thunderous modern Infinity Indycar V8 engine.

He posted the Pillbeam’s fastest official time of 37.133 seconds during the Class Finals, despite not completing three of the six qualifying sessions due to electrical issues. His fastest run for the 1.9 km standing start sprint was completed at an average speed of 184.203 km/h. In the thrilling all-or-nothing Top 10 Shootout, he crossed the timing beam in 37.403 seconds to take the top prize.

“It was a fantastic weekend, even though we had our issues with the car,” Wolk said. “In the Top 10 Shootout we were dealing with an engine problem, so I couldn’t go as fast as I would have liked, but we made it count in the end.”

It was a clean sweep of the top two places for the InvestChem outfit, as team owner Ian Schofield claimed the runner-up spot in the Top 10 Shootout with an impressive time of 40.938 seconds in the 2018 Mygale SJ Formula Ford – slashing an impressive 1.1 seconds off the time he set in the Class Finals.

Rui Campos posted his best time of 41.379 seconds in the final shootout, finishing third in the Ford V8-powered Shelby CanAm. Unfortunately, six-time winner Andre Bezuidenhout was forced to withdraw from this year’s event after his record-setting Gould GR55 suffered engine damage during pre-event testing, but he retains both the class C and outright Simola Hillclimb record of 34.161 seconds.

Modified Saloon Cars
The most powerful and wildest tin-top cars in the country fall into class B for Modified Saloon Cars. Fans were expecting an almighty battle between the two wild all-wheel drive Nissan R35 GT-R machines of five-time winner Franco Scribante and last year’s runner-up, Reghard Roets.

However, the tables were turned when Dawie Joubert was consistently at the top of the pile in his lightweight Lotus Exige, which is powered by a twin-turbocharged Ferrari 488 engine. Having sorted out the technical issues that plagued the car in previous years, Joubert wrapped up the six qualifying rounds with the fastest time of 38.291 seconds.

He was a mere six-hundredths of a second ahead of brother Charl in the Honda V6-powered Lotus Elise (38.354 sec). The penultimate qualifying runs saw the dramatic retirement of both Scribante and Roets with drivetrain damage on both GT-Rs, leaving the final duel to play out between a trio of rear-wheel drive cars, including 2021 winner Pieter Zeelie in the Toyota MR2 Super GT.

Dawie Joubert’s advantage grew in the Class Finals, finishing 1.095 seconds ahead of Charl, with Zeelie half a second further back due to a turbocharger boost pipe coming loose. Dawie ultimately wrapped up a faultless weekend by securing the King of the Hill title with a time of 38.405 seconds (at an average speed of 178.102 km/h). He finished just a tenth of a second ahead of Zeelie, with Charl Joubert taking the final step of the podium on 39.524 seconds.

This made it first rear-wheel drive car win in three years, and brought Dawie to within 0.276 seconds of Franco Scribante’s current Modified Saloon Car record of 38.129 seconds from 2022 – an astonishing feat, considering the traction advantage the GT-R has with its sophisticated, race-developed all-wheel drive system.

“I’m very happy. The car was exceptionally well prepared by the team and gave me a lot of confidence,” Joubert said. “We were in the fight from the first run, and it was a perfect weekend. This is such a great event that just gets better and better each year.”

Road Cars and Supercars (provisional results, subject to final confirmation)
In class A for standard production vehicles, JP van der Walt at the wheel of a Porsche was once again an unbeatable combination as he claimed his fourth consecutive King of the Hill victory in a 2021 911 Turbo S.

Having dominated the entire weekend, Van der Walt not only walked away with the prized title, but he set a new record for the class in the process. His final time of 42.935 seconds in the Road Car and Supercar Top 10 Shootout was 1.159 seconds faster than the previous record of 44.094 sec which was set by Reghard Roets in 2019 in a road-legal Nissan R35 GT-R.

“The weekend was actually very stressful, as pushing this fast destroyed the tyres, and I had to skip some of the qualifying sessions and also change my driving style for the last two runs,” Van der Walt said. “The car just didn’t want to turn in properly on the worn tyres, so I had to brake earlier for the corners to get a clean and fast exit. Reghard helped with a lot of tips to get the best time, and Clint Weston gave me a bit of a run for my money, but we had lots of fun.”

Weston was behind the wheel of the mightily powerful but heavy 2023 Mercedes-AMG GT63 E-Performance 4-door hybrid, and he certainly earned the biggest cheers from the record number of spectators with his exhilarating four-wheel drifts through most of the corners up the 1.9 km Simola Hill.

The provisional results placed him second with a time of 44.434 seconds, although he was 0.3 seconds quicker in his prior run in the Class Finals. Garth Mackintosh finished third in his 2017 McLaren 720s.

Class Finals
There were exciting class battles throughout the field for individual honours, including the new class B10 for modified street-legal cars. The 2024 Simola Hillclimb certainly produced a spectacular show for the fans in attendance, as well as the large number of online enthusiasts watching the livestream from around the world.

The class winners were:

Road Cars and Supercars (provisional results, subject to final confirmation)
A1: Thomas Falkiner – Suzuki Swift Sport: 53.784 sec
A2: Nico Nel – BMW M135i xDrive: 56.928 sec
A3: Farhaad Ebrahim – Toyota Supra: 45.264 sec
A4: JP van der Walt – Porsche 911 Turbo S: 43.513 sec
A5: Dayaan Padayachey – Porsche Cayman GTS: 49.322 sec
A6: Gordon Nicholson – Audi R8 V10 Plus: 47.003 sec
A7: James Temple – Shelby Mustang Super Snake: 47.833 sec
A8: Clint Weston – Mercedes-AMG GT63 E-Performance: 44.134 sec
Modified Saloon Cars
B1: Shuaib Dhansay – Ford Fiesta: 57.850 sec
B2: Daniel Rowe – Volkswagen Polo SupaCup: 44.058 sec
B4: Dawie Joubert – Lotus Exige (Ferrari V8): 38.966 sec
B5: Aldo Scribante – Audi S4: 41.413 sec
B6: Paul Munro – BMW M3: 46.874 sec
B7: Pieter Joubert – Lotus Exige (Mercedes-AMG V8): 43.373 sec
B9: Arnold du Plessis – Nissan Patrol Black Hawk): 54.457 sec
B10: Steve Clark – Nissan R34 GT-R: 43.544 sec
Single Seater, Sports Car and Sports Prototypes
C2: Ian Schofield – Mygale SJ Formula Ford: 42.048 sec
C3: Robert Wolk – Pillbeam MP58 (Infinity Indycar V8): 37.133 sec
C4: Josef Kotze – Birkin S3 (Toyota): 54.411 sec
C6: Rui Campos – Shelby CanAm (Ford V8): 41.826 sec

Spirit of Dave Charlton Award
Each year the special ‘Spirit of Dave Charlton’ award is given to the person or team that reflects South African race legend Dave Charlton’s spirit of impeccable attention to detail, meticulous preparation and commendable performance.

For the 2024 King of the Hill, the award went to Team Scuderia Scribante, headed by brothers Silvio and Aldo Scribante from Gqeberha.

Castrol Motorpress
Release compiled by Colin Mileman (082-897-6145