Over the past 11 editions, Knysna’s Simola Hillclimb has firmly established itself as South Africa’s premier motorsport and motoring lifestyle event, held in the heart of the scenic Garden Route. Entries for this year's Hillclimb close soon, on January 31st.
It’s no surprise that since opening the entry application process for this strictly invitational event in December 2021, there has been keen interest from established competitors and former champions alike. Notably, the organisers have also received a significant number of first-time applications for the 12th edition, which takes place from 6 to 8 May 2022.
“Our objective is to keep the line-up of cars and competitors fresh and interesting each year, and it’s fantastic to see several new names on the list of applications in 2022,” says Geoff Goddard, sporting director of the Simola Hillclimb.
“It’s also encouraging to have received applications from the growing contingent of previous winners and top competitors in Classic Car Friday and King of the Hill who regard the Simola Hillclimb as the must-attend motorsport event of the year, and compete with some of the very best road and race cars in the country,” Goddard says.
“We encourage all aspiring competitors to submit their applications as soon as possible, as no late submissions will be considered,” Goddard adds.
A total of 65 places are available in the Classic Car Friday line-up, and it is currently over 55-per cent subscribed. “It’s important to note that the rules for Classic Car Friday have been tightened up from previous years to ensure that all competing vehicles match the original specification of the cars from the period they were produced or raced, with a maximum leeway of 10 years for any engine and drivetrain upgrades,” Goddard explains.
In class H1 for pre-war cars, the switch to a handicap system has been met with an enthusiastic response, as six applications have been received to date. The handicap system is set up to afford all drivers a chance at victory, despite the wide variety of cars competing.
The other noteworthy change is class H8 which has moved away from recreated cars with modern running gear to period-correct pre-1977 single-seater, sports and GT race cars.
There are no class changes for King of the Hill which starts on the Saturday morning and culminates in the big guns vying for King of the Hill honours in the all-or-nothing Top 10 Shootout on Sunday afternoon. A maximum of 84 slots are available, and this event is already over 70 per cent subscribed.
Three category titles are up for grabs, starting with Road-going Saloon Cars and Supercars with eight classes that cater for road-legal cars complying with the original manufacturer’s specification featuring hot hatchbacks, high-performance sedans and sports cars, and illustrious supercars. There’s also a class for hybrid, electric or solar-powered cars. JP van der Walt took the King of the Hill title in 2021, wrestling his Porsche 911 GT3 RS to a winning time of 45.858 seconds.
Modified Saloon Cars allows for all manner of highly tuned tin-top race cars across nine classes that account for engine configuration, forced induction (turbocharging or supercharging) and drivetrain (two or four-wheel drive), as well as alternative energy sources. Pieter Zeelie is the reigning King of the Hill, having powered his rapid V6-powered Toyota MR2 to victory in 40.402 seconds. He snatched the title from 2019 champion Franco Scribante who is expected to be back with a vengeance this year in his wild Nissan GT-R in a bid to reclaim the crown.
The Single Seater and Sports Prototypes category is split into six classes, with three each for the two types of vehicles, and further differentiated by engine type. Andre Bezuidenhout retained the King of the Hill title last year, blitzing his previous record by stopping the clocks at 34.965 seconds – the fastest-ever time up the tight and twisty 1.9 km Simola Hill, at an astonishing average speed of 195.624 km/h from a standing start.
Moments after victory, the fervent motorsport enthusiast committed to extensively upgrading and modernising his already unbeatable Gould GR55 hillclimb racer – so an even quicker time is likely to be on the cards in 2022.
Subject to COVID-19 travel restrictions, there will hopefully once again be several international competitors returning to the fray for Classic Car Friday and King of the Hill. Similarly, spectator attendance will be dictated by prevailing government regulations, with the current scenario allowing 2 000 fans per day.
For the full event regulations and more information visit: www.simolahillclimb.com