Pretoria - The Jaguar Simola Hillclimb (May 6 - 8) remains one of South Africa’s premier motorsport events, with the 2016 edition attracting more celebrities, sports personalities, media and competitors than before.
Lisa Mallett, marketing director of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa said: "In 2015, we said we want to come back and have the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb be bigger, better and more exciting.
"With the thrilling racing, celebrities and jaw-dropping reveal of the all-new Jaguar F-Pace, I think we’ve achieved just that: a world-class event that has become a must-attend attraction."
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Classics cars from 1929
The action started on May 6, with Classic Car Friday. The country’s bravest classic car owners took their historic machines up the fast and challenging road leading to the Simola Golf and Country Estate. These cars included historic, pre-war cars from as far back as 1929, as well as sports cars from the 1960s and 70s and Formula race cars from the same eras.
Driving his 1970 single-seat Chevron B19 race car, Franco Scribante took his second Classic Conqueror title, becoming the first-ever two-time winner of the event. His lightweight car - perfectly suited to hill climbs - was also fast enough to set a new overall Classic Car Friday record of 41.423s.
Friday also saw the annual town parade, where the weekend’s King of the Hill competitors paraded through Knysna, allowing fans to get up close to the cars and their drivers. Jaguar South Africa led the parade with the eight Jaguars it entered into the event, including two Jaguar F-Type R all-wheel drive Coupés, a 2004 Jaguar XJR race car, and five Jaguar XE R-Sport 2.0-litre petrol sedans driven by the media.
On Saturday, during lunch, the all-new Jaguar F-Pace was unveiled. The crowds stopped and looked upwards as Jaguar’s first-ever SUV arrived by helicopter. After being delivered to the top of the hill, the aluminium-intensive F-Pace was driven down the challenging road by Jaguar ambassador and Hollywood actor, Sharlto Copley, on its maiden voyage.
Reader gallery: 2016 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb
Celebs at the hillclimb
Fans also had the opportunity to spot other celebrities and Jaguar Land Rover ambassadors, including Stormers rugby players Eben Etzebeth, Cheslin Kolbe, Schalk Burger, Scarra Ntubeni, Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit. On Sunday fans were also treated to a rare sight when the limited edition Jaguar F-Type Project 7 completed some runs up the Simola hill. Only five of these high-performance, V8-powered supercars have been sold in South Africa.
The King of the Hill competition saw fierce racing in all classes.
Five South African journalists participated in the Jaguar media challenge, using Jaguar XE R-Sport 2.0-litre sedans in standard road trim. The five journalists - Andrew Leopold, Ashley Oldfield, Ernest Page, Nikesh Kooverjee and Thomas Falkiner - were very competitive throughout the two-day-long event. Each driver started off cautiously, finding their limits on the rain-soaked road. But by the end of Saturday the surface had dried and competition tightened up.
The defending champion Oldfield posted the fastest time.
Jaguar SA participates
The 2004 Jaguar XJR racecar, prepared by Jaguar South Africa’s technical team, also wowed crowds throughout the weekend. Driven by Jaguar employee Derrick Dearlove, the V8-powered car - affectionately known as “The Beast - drew cheers as it roared off the start line. Derrick finished second in class, behind a highly modified race car driven by Thouca Mechanicos.
Dawie Olivier, Jaguar South Africa’s national aftersales manager, also performed extremely well behind the wheel of his Jaguar F-Type R AWD, which competed in the new Supercar Shootout competition reserved for road-going exotic cars. Olivier’s showroom condition, stock-standard F-Type finished second in class - beaten only by a modified vehicle driven by Jaki Scheckter.
Olivier said: “In the wet I managed to be extremely competitive and placed first in some of the practice sessions. The Jaguar All-Wheel Drive system helped put down the power in slippery conditions.
“The car ran impeccably on the Continental road tyres, and we’re really proud that a standard car placed this highly in a class with other exotics and modified machinery.”
First two-time winner
Sunday’s King of the Hill shootout saw tight competition among the big names. However, Franco Scribante again ruled the roost – this time with his V8-powered Chevron B26 classic race car. After being rebuilt following a crash earlier in the day, Scribante trounced all comers by being the first to win a second King of the Hill title. His fastest time of 38.646 seconds is now a new overall record for the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb and it earned him the inaugural “Jody” award for setting the fastest time of the weekend.
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Mallet said: “Judging by the passionate crowds and fierce level of competition, it’s clear that this is the most exciting event in South African motorsport. It’s a perfect fit for Jaguar, because it excites the senses and thrills with performance.
“We’ve had incredible feedback about the quality of the event from drivers, spectators, the media and celebrities who were present. It’s clear that everybody who attends the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb goes home with racing in their blood.”