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The big stage: Simola Hillclimb 2020 winner to go international!

2020-01-29 08:30

Colin Mileman

simola hill climb

Image: Rob Till

Winners of South Africa’s premier motorsport and motoring lifestyle event, the Simola Hillclimb, will now be guaranteed an entry into the fourth edition of the FIA Hill Climb Masters event to be held in Braga, Portugal from 9 to 11 October 2020.

The FIA Hill Climb Masters is a bi-annual invitational event established in 2014 with the aim of bringing together the winners of national championships recognised by their respective national motorsport associations, as well as the winners of the FIA Championship and Cup series.

With South Africa not having a Hillclimb series or championship, Motorsport South Africa (MSA) and the organisers of the Simola Hillclimb have come to an agreement with the FIA to allow certain winners of the annual Knysna event to qualify for the Hillclimb Masters.

simola hill climb

                       Image: MotorPress

Going international

Qualifying drivers will be the winners of the King of the Hill’s Modified Saloon Car and Single Seater/Sports Prototype categories. As the Masters is held every two years, Simola Hillclimb winners from two events will receive an entry, meaning that if there are different winners over the two events then four drivers will have the opportunity of representing South Africa in the Masters.

Competitors will not only compete for individual honours for gold, silver or bronze medals but will also represent South Africa in the Nations Cup against an ever-increasing number of countries. In 2018, drivers from 20 nations were represented. This will be the first time that a country outside of Europe will contest the FIA Hill Climb Masters.

Since the equipment entered and the level of performance may differ between the participants with varied backgrounds, the classification of the Nations Cup will be based on a regularity index, rather than sheer speed. Therefore, a nation which does not enter prototype cars or single-seaters could still aim to win, just as a nation which has drivers in its ranks capable of going for overall individual victory.

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Vincent Caro, the FIA’s head of department for Historic Motor Sport, Hill Climb & Off Road said: “To have South Africa as the first-ever non-European team entering in 2020 would be quite a coup for the FIA Hill Climb Masters. Interest in Hill Climb Masters is growing year by year since its creation in 2014. From 12 nations, we have grown to 20 in just three editions.

“We know, through the tracking of the live streaming of the race on social networks, that interest in the Masters extends beyond Europe's borders. The participation of non-European competitors would be a new step in the young history of the event. It has become increasingly clear that the Simola Hillclimb is raced in the same sportivo-festive spirit as the Masters and we have also been able to appreciate the quality and level of performance of the cars and drivers that stand out there each year!”

jaguar simola hillclimb

                       Image: MotorPress

Adding to the stature

Adrian Scholtz, CEO of Motorsport South Africa commented that this would be a significant boost for the local event: “The Simola Hillclimb is already one of the annual highlights of the South African motorsport calendar and the links being established with the FIA Hill Climb Masters can only add to the event’s stature. The atmosphere off the track at the Simola Hillclimb matches the on-track action and I can see the event only going from strength to strength in future years.”

For the organisers of the annual Simola Hillclimb, which features the 11th edition this year, the tie-up with the FIA Hillclimb Masters as a major boost for South African competitors.

Ian Shrosbree, managing director of the Knysna Speed Festival, said: “We are delighted that, together with the FIA and MSA, we can offer this incredible opportunity to competitors in the Simola Hillclimb. Discussions with the FIA started in June 2018 after the FIA’s Vincent Caro and MSA’s Richard Schilling, who was at the time President of the FIA Cross Country Commission, were discussing the FIA Masters and the Simola Hillclimb.

“Unfortunately, we could not send our winner to the 2018 event due to the late notice, but we continued discussions with the FIA about how to make this work. I am very pleased to say that we will now have a possible four drivers competing regularly in the event going forward. Four drivers are required to compete in the Nations Cup. Should we not have four different winners from the two events, we will engage with the FIA to consider alternatives to hopefully ensure our participation.”

simola hill climb

                       Image: MotorPress

The second decade

A (Road-going saloon cars and Supercars) will unfortunately not be eligible to compete in the Masters as the standard specification of these cars does not comply with the rules of the event. 

The 2020 edition of the Simola Hillclimb is scheduled to roar into life from 7 to 10 May, marking the start of the second decade of this truly exceptional automotive extravaganza. Since entries opened on 1 October, the organisers have already received over 160 applications to compete in the event.

Entries close on 31 January, so competitors wishing to lodge a Request for Invitation with their chosen competition car are requested to register online as soon as possible at www.simolahillclimb.com. Applications will be evaluated by the organisers, who will then issue a formal invitation to compete to successful applicants.

Quite simply, there’s no other event on the calendar that attracts such a vast and diverse range of iconic cars and legendary drivers from all eras competing for glory on the challenging 1.9km Simola Hill course – thus making it the must-attend event of the year for enthusiasts and competitors alike.

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