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Simola '15: Biggest crowd, fastest cars

2015-05-20 10:00

CLASSIC RACER: Keith van Heerden races the Jaguar D-Type up the hill at Simola, Knysna. Image: Jaguar

   More than 12 000 spectators
   Jaguar XE unveiled
 •  Previous record obliterated

KNYSNA, Western Cape - The tight, twisting 1.9km section of road leading to the five-star Simola Club and Country Estate proved once again to be the highlight of the 2015 Jaguar Simola Hill Climb.

More than 12 000 spectators over three days watched the country’s top names in motorsport unleash thousands of kiloWatts in competition for the coveted Classic Conquerer and King of the Hill titles.

Lisa Mallett, marketing director at Jaguar Land Rover SA, said: "Seeing the passion of these competitors, and the enthusiasm from the local crowds, is what the Jaguar Simola Hill Climb is all about.

"An annual platform to attract the best cars from around the country in an idyllic setting makes the event a social must-do, not only for enthusiasts but also for everybody who appreciates the finer things in life."


Jaguar used the event to expose its new small sedan, the all-new XE, to thousands of eyes. It says the XE's light construction, streamlined styling, luxurious interior and outstanding ride and handling will make it the driver’s car in its class. (We'll let you know after we drive it.)

The rear-drive XE uses innovative aluminium architecture and is powered by a range of diesel engines that will make it the most economical Jaguar yet. A supercharged three-litre V6 version from the F-Type will see the XE S reach 100km/h in 5.1 seconds.

The XE will go on sale in South Africa in September 2015.

VIDEO: Rare BMW crashes at Simola Hill Climb

Classic Friday (May 15) started with 48 iconic pre- and post-Second World War road and race cars being driven to their full potential – and sometimes beyond – by some seriously committed drivers.

The grid ranged from a 1929 Bugatti to ultimate Classic Conquerer title-winner Charles Arton’s 1979 March 79B Formula Atlantic single-seater.

Among the list of accomplished classics were two Jaguar D-Type race cars, driven by Dick Sorensen and Keith van Heerden. These iconic Jaguars won the famous Le Mans 24-Hour three years’ running (1955-57). Incredibly the D-Type race cars had an aluminium monocoque construction and disc brakes, quite sophisticated back then.

Going two-by-two, the pair of E-types paid tribute to Jaguar’s current F-Type – seen in action over the weekend – while the preview of the all-new XE was prefaced by the straight-six howl of the sports-sedan of the time: the Jaguar Mk.II – itself a successful British Touring Car racer in period.


Saturday (May 16) and Sunday (May 17) provided a playground for more than 80 competitors vying to see who could conquer the Simola Hill in the quickest time and be crowned King of the Hill.

GALLERY: 2015 Simola HillClimb

The pits hosted cars of every kind, ranging from stock-standard and lightly-modified road cars all the way to extremely fast race cars and purpose-built hill-climb specials.

Piloting the fastest of these specialised machines was Desmond Gutzeit, who took top honours in his R32 Nissan Skyline GTR, in a record time of 40.14sec.


Jaguar was heavily represented with: two F-Type R Coupés, driven by members of the Jaguar team, Barry Ingle-represented Jaguar Experience, while Jaguar Land Rover South Africa (JLRSA) was represented by the fastest man in a production car – driving his land speed record-setting car – Dawie Olivier.

Despite being in completely stock-standard, showroom condition cars fitted with road tyres, the duo’s efforts were enough to earn them spots in the class finals.

Crowds were also treated to the sight and sounds of the mighty black XJR prepared by the JLRSA technical team. This supercharged beast made short work of the tyres as Rory Beattie, customer services director at JLRSA, powered up the hill.

A work in progress, Beattie and the Beast will be back in 2016 to put in some serious times.

RECORD-HOLDER: Dawie Olivier pilots a standard F-Type V8 up the Simola hill: the fastest production car in South Africa. Image: Jaguar


The 2015 edition featured some South Africa’s fastest media people, invited to drive a range of Jaguar models in the hill-climb. Rather than just being measured on outright pace, 2014 champion Stuart Grant and four of his media cohorts (Jesse Adams, Mark Jones, Ashley Oldfield and Dieter Losskarn) were briefed to apply one of the basics of racing: consistency.

After Saturday’s (May 16) practice, and many mind games, the quintet put on their serious race faces and went for glory.

At the end of Sunday’s (May 17) qualifying runs the results were in. Behind the wheel of his turbocharged two-litre Jaguar XF, Ashley Oldfield proved to be not only fast but also very consistent. Over six runs his fastest and slowest times differed by only 0.71sec – enough to earn him the 2015 Alucat Cup.

Jones was second with a difference of only 0.919sec, proving just how competitive the media can be. Losskarn, Grant and Adams rounded off the media challenge in their respective XF 2.2D, F-TYPE V6 S, and XF 3.0 supercharged models – all ultimately doing enough to earn sponsor prizes from Castrol.

Jaguar says the Simola Hill Climb was a roaring success and it's great to know motorsport events of this kind have substantial backing. The fans have it all to look forward to again in 2016 when the event will return to The Hill with even greater experiences to be enjoyed.

Read more on:    jaguar  |  knysna

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