The eighth edition of the award-winning Jaguar Simola Hillclimb cemented the event as South Africa’s premier motorsports gathering. More than 15 000 spectators arrived to watch elite local and international race drivers conquer the most-contested hill road in South Africa. “We’re ecstatic with how the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb has grown to become a household name, and the most-anticipated event on the local motorsport calendar,” said Richard Gouverneur, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa. “It’s a genuine spectacle that simply has to be seen in person to be appreciated – everybody goes home a fan of cars and high-performance thrills after a weekend at the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb.”
This year’s action started with Classic Car Friday, on 5 May, where Jaguar South Africa had entered a classic Jaguar XJ-S. With its splendid Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) replica livery – harking back to this classic Jaguar’s racing success in 80s touring car racing – the V12-powered XJ-S drew attention from many motorsport fans. Piloted by American race ace, Randy Pobst, the Jaguar Classic XJ-S joined other iconic machines up the fast and challenging Simola Hill Road. These included historic, pre-war cars from as far back as the 1930s, as well as sports cars from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Perennial favourite and former King of the Hill Franco Scribante, once again took top honours in his 1970 Chevron B19 race car. Driving the lightweight single-seater to a time of 41.554 seconds, Franco secured a hat trick of wins in the prestigious historic racing portion of the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb. While action unfolded on the hill, the community of Knysna were treated to a town parade where the weekend’s King of the Hill competitors strutted their stuff. Jaguar South Africa led the parade with eight Jaguars – which marked the official debut of the new 2018 Jaguar F-TYPE, which included the Jaguar F-TYPE SVR Coupé, the F-TYPE SVR Convertible, and the Special Edition F-TYPE 400 Sport – all of which competed in the weekend’s racing. These were joined at the parade by two Jaguar XE S sports sedans and The Beast – a 2003 Jaguar XJR race car prepared by apprentices at the Jaguar Land Rover Training Academy. Joining the parade were two Jaguar owners who won an ultra-exclusive entry to compete at the event – Ian Schmidt in his Jaguar F-TYPE S and Shahieda Ebrahim in her Jaguar XF sedan.
This year’s new format for the King of the Hill competition, over Saturday and Sunday, saw trophies up for grabs: road-going supercars, single-seater race cars, and modified saloons. Winning their King of the Hill trophies for road-going supercars and modified saloons were Reghard Roets and Wilhelm Baard, respectively. Taking top honours for the single-seater King of the Hill category was Andre Bezuidenhout in his 1989 Dallara F1 car. Bezuidenhout saw off all challengers in his class when he beat last year’s record by nearly a full second, with a record-setting run of 37.695 seconds. In the individual classes and shootouts, Jaguar also saw success. Jaguar drivers Randy Pobst and Dawie Olivier took the first two spots in the A8 class, where they drove an F-TYPE SVR Coupé and F-TYPE SVR convertible, respectively. Jaguar also had three finishers in the top-10 shoot-out for road-going supercars.
After a phenomenal drive that had other drivers congratulating him, Randy Pobst finished second in his showroom condition, stock-standard F-TYPE SVR Coupé with a time of 44.999 – a mere 0.233 seconds behind the car driven by Reghard Roets. “It was an incredible honour to be part of this special event here in South Africa, especially the warm welcome and the camaraderie among the racers – including support and advice from Jaguar South Africa’s Dawie Olivier,” said Pobst. “The SVR was shockingly fast – the All-Wheel Drive system, off the line, literally snaps my head back and pins it against the seat, which I love. The course reminds me of a drag race with curves. It’s fast, difficult and thrilling with low grip but the car was so easy to drive.” Dawie Olivier, Jaguar South Africa’s national aftersales manager, also drove his F-TYPE SVR Convertible in the top-10 shootout, finishing a fourth among fierce competition. One of South Africa’s fastest journalists, Ashley Oldfield, also performed superbly. Ashley drove the Special Edition F-TYPE 400 Sport – a new model in the 2018 F-TYPE line-up – to a seventh-place finish in the top 10. “We’re incredibly proud to be associated with this event, and it’s been a privilege to see it grow from strength to strength,” said Gouverneur. “Every person who attends has racing in their blood, and it’s their passion that makes the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb such as success. Everybody is welcome – we look forward to seeing more exotics and action at the event next year.”