Bezuidenhout smashes Simola Hillclimb record and two new King of the Hill winners are crowned
It’s official – the Simola Hillclimb has a new outright record!
Andre Bezuidenhout lived up to expectations, as well as his bold pre-event promise of a sub-35-second time, by powering powered the agile 2007 Gould GR55 to the best-ever time on the 1.9 km Simola Hill, stopping the clock in just 34.965 seconds. He did this in the final all-or-nothing Top 10 Shootout for the Single Seater and Sports Prototype category late on Sunday. In the process, he slashed his current record time from 2018 by 0.563 seconds – achieving an astonishing average speed of 195.624 km/h!
“It was a close-run thing, as the shadows were already starting to come over the track when I did my run in the late afternoon,”
“If we were 10 minutes later, I wouldn’t have been able to go that fast as the temperature began falling. So it was the perfect run in the end. I desperately wanted to do a 34, and the team worked very hard to achieve this great result.”
Despite having just taken a well-earned victory, Bezuidenhout is already looking forward to the 2022 Simola Hillclimb.
“I think there’s still more to come from the car as, until now, I’ve been driving the car as it came from the UK in 2018. Now we’re going to start working on the suspension, and we are looking at adding launch control for next year because at the moment it’s 100-percent my right foot, whereas a lot of the other cars have traction and launch control systems.”
Robert Wolk was second in the Top 10 Shootout in his 2007 Ferrari-powered A1 GP car, ending on 37.205 seconds following consistent improvements throughout the weekend, and a personal best time of 36.819 seconds in the Class Finals. Byron Mitchell finished third with a time of 40.381 seconds in his 2002 Reynard Formula VW single-seater, just half a second ahead of Andrew Rackstraw in a similar car.
Devin Robertson was the quickest of the sports prototype machines and fifth overall in the Top 10 Shootout, powering his high-revving 1.4-litre Suzuki-powered Radical SR1 Clubsport to 41.075 seconds, beating the only Ford 5.0-litre V8-powered Shelby CanAm in the country, driven by Rui Campos to a time of 41.676 seconds. Michael Verrier was seventh in the Nissan 3.5 V6-powered version of the CanAm on 43.645 seconds.
Andrew Schofield ended eighth in the 2015 Mygale Formula Ford (47.456 sec), with James Forbes ninth in his 2006 ADR MCE3 (47.751 sec). Megan Verlaque wrapped up her first Simola Hillclimb with an impressive time of 47.876 seconds in the tiny Suzuki 600 cc Speedcar Xtreme, rounding out the Top 10 with a super-competitive time of 47.876 seconds.
Modified Saloon Cars
There was a bit of a shakeup in the final Top 10 Shootout for Modified Saloon Cars, as Pieter Zeelie claimed his first King of the Hill title in the rear-wheel drive 2002 Toyota MR2 3.5 twin-turbo V6. After setting a time of 40.961 seconds in the Class Finals, he produced an inch-perfect performance in a last-gasp shootout, slicing through the timing beam in a superb 40.402 seconds.
“It’s wonderful, the perfect run came in when it counted,”
“I was hoping for a podium but didn’t expect much more when competing against the likes of Franco Scribante, Wade van Zummeren and Wilhelm Baard. They are all definitely quicker in the Nissan GT-Rs, but only if all goes well, and that was the difference today as it all came together better for me today.”
Reigning King of the Hill and current-holder Franco Scribante was widely considered a sure-bet to repeat his dominance in the outrageous 2016 Nissan R35 GT-R after charging to a new Modified Saloon Car official record of 39.303 seconds in the Class Finals – 0.039 sec quicker than his 2019 time. However, as the last car out of the blocks, a less-than-perfect final run saw him cross the finish line in 40.522 seconds, relegating him to second place.
After progressively chipping away at his times on his first outing in the four-wheel drive 2002 Nissan R34 GT-R, Wade van Zummeren looked set to challenge for a strong podium position, and potentially even the King of the Hill title. Unfortunately, a technical glitch on the car during the Class Finals saw him come to a halt on the long uphill straight. He threw everything at the Top 10 Shootout final run, taking the wild GT-R on a hair-raising charge up the hill – with several heart-stopping moments as the car lurched onto the dirt on several occasions, and destroyed several of the track limit markers. Although he scored 10 out of 10 for effort, his time was deleted as a result.
Another top driver that seemed to be right in the mix was Dawie Joubert. Even though this was his 2001 Lotus Exige’s first Simola Hillclimb since adopting a twin-turbo Ferrari engine, he managed a rapid 39.888 seconds during the final qualifying session. He was half a second slower in the Class Finals, and was flying in the Top 10 final – but probably a touch too quick as he also clipped a bollard and lost his run.
This handed third place to Charl Arangies with a time of 41.081 in the 2019 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, finishing ahead of the second Joubert brother, Charl, in a Honda-powered 2005 Lotus Elise (41.365 sec).
Following a difficult weekend with relatively few runs completed up the Simola Hill, Wilhelm Baard had to settle with fifth place and a final time of 41.289 seconds in the 2014 Nissan R35 GT-R, followed by Anton Cronje (2013 Subaru Impreza WRX STi) on 42.279 seconds and Silvio Scribante in a second Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo (42.386 sec). Franco di Matteo received praise for his recovery from a crash on Saturday due to a broken steering column. He revived the 2000 Jaguar V8 Supercar and hauled it over the line in 43.375 seconds in eighth place, and the last of the finishers.
Road-going Saloon Cars and Supercars
Another competitor to recover from drama was Jean-Pierre van der Walt. He got the 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS sideways across the finish line after sliding on a patch of water during the warm-up session this morning, which caused him to run wide onto the verge of the road and slice a rear tyre. Despite landing up in the trees at the top of the course, the car fortunately wasn’t heavily damaged. However, he had to call on the assistance of the BB Motorsport team and Wilhelm Baard who eagerly jumped in to fit a replacement tyre – and all he had on hand was a set of wet weather rubber for the Porsche.
Nevertheless, the Polo Cup Masters racer tenaciously fought his way to the King of the Hill title for the Road-going Saloon Car and Supercar category with a winning time of 45.858 seconds. “It’s great to win the class after going off this morning, and having not done a proper run with the wet weather tyres. I did take it a bit easy on the final run, but I’m happy with the result,” he said.
Gordon Nicholson was second in the Top 10 Shootout, recording 47.127 seconds in the 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus. Popular production car racer Reghard Roets nearly missed the 2021 Simola Hillclimb as the Nissan GT-R he was supposed to drive in the Modified Saloon Cars wasn’t ready for the event, so the BB Motorsport team decided at the last minute to put him in a standard production 2020 MINI John Cooper Works GP – and he didn’t disappoint, driving the wheels off the car to finish third overall on 48.564 seconds. He landed up 1.1 seconds quicker than Jared Yeo in the 2017 Porsche 718s Cayman (49.755 sec), followed by Peter Lindenberg in the rare 2016 Shelby Ford Mustang Terlingua (50.391 sec), Piet Potgieter in his 2017 Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio (50.642 sec) and Jonathan Needham in a 2017 Shelby Mustang Super Snake (52.991 sec).
The Top 10 was rounded off by Feroz Ebrahim (2008 BMW Z4M Coupe) on 53.615 seconds, Willie Stander in the 1990 Opel Kadett Superboss (54.410 sec) and Francois Cowley in the 1989 BMW 3-Series (56.980 sec).
Single Seaters and Sports Prototypes
Preceding the final Top 10 Shootout, the competitors faced off against each other in the one-run Class Finals. Andre Bezuidenhout was once again in a class of his own in the Gould GR55, and already laid down a new Simola Hillclimb record at 35.164 seconds – which he then went on to beat in the Top 10 Shootout. In the process, he also claimed the Class C3 title, ahead of Robert Wolk in the A1 GP with his best time of the weekend at 36.819 seconds.
Devin Robertson claimed the Class C4 win with a time of 41.166 seconds in the Radical SR1 Clubsport, while Class C5 went to the ADR MCE of James Forbes (47.388 sec). In the battle of the Shelby CanAm racers, Rui Campos took the victory in the mighty Ford 5.0-litre V8-powered car (42.290 sec) with Knysna resident Michael Verrier having to settle for the runner-up position in his Nissan 3.5 V6-powered machine (44.063 sec).
Modified Saloon Cars
Franco Scribante established a new Modified Saloon Car record for the Simola King of the Hill during this afternoon’s highly-anticipated Class Finals. He pushed the multi-winged 2016 Nissan R35 GT-R, known as the “Sheriff”, to the absolute limit to set the fastest-ever time for a saloon car on the 1.9 km Simola Hill, crossing the timing beam in 39.303 seconds – 0.039 seconds quicker than his record-breaking 2019 time.
This handed him the Class B5 title, beating second-placed Wilhelm Baard (2014 Nissan R35 GT-R) by 0.778 seconds (40.081 sec). Unfortunately, Wade van Zummeren’s exceptional run in the wild 2002 Nissan R34 GT-R came to a halt in the Class Finals. He had arguably his best start of the weekend, but the car slowed and came to a stop before Turn 3 with a technical issue.
Dawie Joubert topped the times in Class B4, powering his Ferrari-engined Lotus to a winning time of 40.455 seconds, ending half a second faster than Pieter Zeelie (2002 Toyota MR2), with Charl Joubert (Honda V6-powered 2005 Lotus Elise) third on 41.254 seconds.
Charl Arangies won Class B7 in the 2019 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo (40.722 sec), ousting Silvio Scribante in an identical car (42.047 sec). Despite having a big off on Saturday due to a broken steering column on the 2000 Jaguar V8 Supercar, and not expected to return to the hillclimb action, Franco di Matteo and his team performed a small miracle and got the big Jag repaired and back in the fray, ending third with a time of 42.763 sec.
In Class B3 Anton Cronje was the class of the field in his 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX STi (42.743 sec), with Shane Naidu (2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) taking the runner-up position with a time of 45.262 seconds. Pierre Bester’s run in the 2014 Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG came to nothing as his time was deleted due to a track limits penalty.
Johan de Bruyn (2009 BMW M3) won Class B6 on 46.706 seconds, ahead of Paul Munro (2003 BMW M3 CSL) on 46.744 seconds and Karel Stols in the screaming rotary-engined 1993 Mazda RX-7 FD (49.355 sec). Owen Bridger won Class B2 in the 2007 Honda Civic Type-R (47.592 sec), while Juan van Rensburg took the B1 title in his 2001 VW Scirocco (50.913 sec).
Udo de Beurges secured the Class B9 victory in the 2019 Audi RSQ3 (50.473 sec), ahead of Paige Lindenberg in the muscular supercharged 5.0-litre V8 Ford Ranger RTR Savage 660 (55.860 sec) and Ryno Scheepers in the dinky rotary-engined 1976 Mazda F1000 bakkie (57.069 sec).
Road-going Saloon Cars and Supercars
Reghard Roets produced a stunning performance in the 2020 MINI John Cooper Works GP, winning Class A1 with a time of 48.599 seconds, ahead of Jared Yeo (2017 Porsche 718s Cayman) on 49.722 seconds and Willie Stander in the 1990 Opel Kadett Superboss (54.574 sec).
Piet Potgieter had a solid run in 50.014 seconds to take Class A3 in the Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio, with A5 going to JP van der Walt who managed to fix his 2016 Porsche GT3 RS in record time after crashing in the morning warm-up. His time of 46.807 seconds was over six seconds faster than second-placed Feroz Ebrahim in the BMW Z4M Coupe (52.844 sec) and Francois Cowley (1989 BMW 3-Series) on 56.948 seconds.
Gordon Nicholson earned the Class A6 title in the 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus with a time of 46.722 seconds. Class A7 went to Peter Lindenberg in the beefy 2016 Shelby Mustang Terlingua (52.072 sec) ahead of the Shelby Mustang Super Snake of Jonathan Needham (53.371 sec).
Virtual Simola Hillclimb winners crowned
In the Virtual Simola Hillclimb, which ran simultaneously this weekend alongside the real event, Charl Wilken (47) wasn’t able to materialize on his pre-qualifying round domination in the Virtual Classic Car Friday, having taken four wins from four events. Wilken was leading until the final round when he made small mistake, handing the win to Capetonian Denis Mitchell (41).
Emile de Villiers (14) ruled the Virtual King of the Hill by taking four out of five wins from title favourite Charl Wilken. Emile took an overnight lead on Saturday and didn’t drop a single beat in the three Sunday races. Wilken took one win on Sunday, but it was not enough to prevent De Villiers from taking the victory.