WHAT A LINE-UP! The 2017 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb will feature faster cars. Image: MotorPress
Knysna - King of the Hill is the feature event for the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb (JSHC), which takes place from May 4-7, 2017.
For this year’s eighth edition, the organisers have added a whole new level of intrigue and excitement with the introduction of three separate King of the Hill categories with equal status for standard road and supercars, modified saloon cars, and single-seater or sports racing cars.
Equal status, different trophies
Geoff Goddard, JSHC sporting director, explains: “It was clear from the 2016 King of the Hill that the single-seaters and sports racing cars are in a class of their own due to their light weight, exceptional power-to-weight ratio and superior aerodynamics.
"Even with extreme levels of power, the saloon-based racing cars weigh considerably more and are simply not able to compete on an equal footing. Accordingly, for the 2017 event we introduced three individual classes in King of the Hill, each of which carries equal status with the winners to be awarded their own titles and ‘Jody’ trophies.”
READ: New format to 2017 Simola Hillclimb
Reigning champion Franco Scribante dominated the 2016 event in his exceptionally fast Chevron B26 and, in the process, set a new record time of 38.646 sec. He achieved an average speed over the 1.9km Hillclimb course of 176.9 km/h - and that’s from a standing start!
The best of the rest in the final shootout was 2015 winner Des Gutzeit in his 1100kW Nissan Skyline GT-R, 1.678 sec adrift. However, throughout last year’s event, the pure-bred single-seater and sports racing cars were largely untouchable. Other than Scribante, the only competitors that dropped below the 40 sec mark were André Bezuidenhout in his Dallara Formula 1, and Robert Wolk in the Formula Renault V6.
2016'S WINNING CAR: Franco Scribante's Chevron B26. Image: MotorPress
SA-built race car
One of the interesting additions to the line-up for the 2017 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb is the South African designed and built Barnard BTR, which is a sophisticated Le Mans Prototype-style sports racing car and competes in Class C1 along with the single-seaters.
Racing veteran Izak Spies has entered his road-legal model, powered by a 560kW Chevrolet LS7 V8 engine, while fellow racer Jacques Wheeler makes his third appearance at the Simola event in a track-focussed version powered by a twin-turbocharged Lexus V8 with over 484kW on tap.
READ: Starry line-up for 2017 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb
Spies says: “The Barnard is a work of art, and we are working on getting a local endurance series going with these cars. With the right gearing it is designed for a top speed of 400km/h, although we will use much shorter ratios for the Hillclimb.
“What makes this car really stand out is the race-derived aerodynamics that produces huge downforce. For this event, it’s all about cornering speeds, and this is where the Barnard excels.”
Two Formula VW entries will take to the start line in Class C2, driven by Mike Verrier and Garth de Villiers. These nimble single-seaters use a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine and a Reynard chassis, and should also be capable of mixing it with the front-runners.
There’s also a brace of track-day specials to watch out for in Class C3, including an Ariel Atom, KTM X-Bow and two Lotus 7s.
A handful of lucky visitors to the 2017 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb will win an experience of a lifetime, with an exhilarating ride in a Jaguar up the 1.9 km Hillclimb course.
All tickets purchased via www.iTickets.co.za will qualify for the daily draws, with the winners contacted by cellphone and invited to the pit lane for this exclusive adrenaline-charged ride, seated alongside one of Jaguar’s advanced drivers.