Of all the vehicles competing in the yearly Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, from May 3 to 5, the road-going saloon cars and supercars are the most relatable to the spectators, as they are street-legal machines that you can buy off a showroom floor.
Unlike their mild-to-wild race-bred counterparts that compete in the Class B modified Saloon Car category, the Class A entries are standard production models without modifications permitted, including the limitation of using original-specification road tyres.
However, that doesn’t suggest the line-up of cars, or the show that the drivers deliver, is anything less than spectacular, as the category’s King of the Hill shootout has proven in recent years.
Revealing just how competitive the class is, reigning double King of the Hill champion Reghard Roets won last year’s final Top 10 Shootout by a mere 0.075 seconds over Jaguar’s Dawie Olivier, setting a new Class A record of 44.631 seconds over the 1.9km course in the process.
Roets returns to Knysna this year in an attempt to claim a hat-trick of King of the Hill titles in the latest iteration of the venerable Nissan GT-R.
However, as the lone GT-R in the category, he faces an even more intense challenge from title sponsor Jaguar, thanks to a uniquely intriguing two-pronged assault. The new rivalry comes in the form of the Cronje brothers, Mark and Gavin, who are considered among South Africa’s most talented crop of current racing drivers.
While they will undoubtedly both be vying for the King of the Hill crown in a pair of identical Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupes, there’s also a long-standing needle match to settle between the two regarding who is fastest in identical cars and conditions. In the individual classes, Roets will be competing in A4 which caters for five- and six-cylinder four-wheel drive cars, alongside Udo de Beurges in a 2018 Audi RS3, which is regarded as one of the hottest hatchbacks on the market currently.
The supercharged V8 Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupes are grouped together in A7 for eight-cylinder cars and above and will be fighting for class honours against the likes of a very exclusive Mercedes-AMG GT R entered by Johan Pretorius, Jacques Wheeler’s 2013 McLaren MP4-12C and a pair of Shelby Super Snake Mustangs, driven by Paige Lindenberg and Charles Needham.
Class A5 for six-cylinder naturally aspirated cars includes a 2018 Porsche GT3 that will be driven by Paul Munro on his sixth outing at the Hillclimb. He will be up against Feroz Ebrahim in a 2009 BMW Z4M.
It’s a three-way battle in A3 for two-wheel drive turbocharged cars, as the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV entries of Pierre Bester and Piet Potgieter will face off against a BMW M2 Competition with ex-BMW works racing driver Gennaro Bonafede behind the wheel. In Class A1 for four-cylinder two-wheel drive cars, Gavin Williams will be taking to the start line in an Opel-powered Lotus, joined by Bruce Meyer in a turbocharged Volkswagen Polo, as well as Willem and Jacques Bower who will both be contesting their 10th Simola Hillclimb this year.
There’s also an interesting lineup of entries for A8 (hybrid and electric cars), as well as A9 which caters for high-performance sport utility vehicles (SUVs). Make sure you do not miss out on the 10th edition. Be sure to secure your Pit Access, Turn 2 Grandstand Seating and Pit Priority Parking tickets. Ticket sales are available on jaguarsimolahillclimb.com.