Citizen reporter
4 minute read
15 Apr 2016
1:52 pm

Battle Royale for Classic Car Friday

Citizen reporter

South Africa’s premier motorsport event, the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb, promises to be jam-packed with non-stop action and excitement, kicking off with Classic Car Friday on 6 May.

Picture: Supplied

Both winners from the past two events will be back for the seventh edition this year, with the aim of becoming the first-ever double winners at the Hillclimb.

As the reigning champion, with the title of Classic Conqueror for 2015, Charles Arton returns with his impressive ex-Derek Daly 1979 March 79B Formula Atlantic single-seater race car.

Despite relying on a mere 1.6-litre four-cylinder Ford BDA engine, having had very little time in the car before last year’s event and struggling throughout the weekend with clutch trouble, he set the winning time of 45.894 sec.

Heading into the 2016 event, Arton hasn’t had much more seat time in the March, but hopes to be able to go a fair bit quicker. “I’ve had the gearbox out for a couple of months as the crown wheel and pinion were damaged, so we’ve had to get new parts from England. As a result, I’ve only driven the car once since the Hillclimb last year, but I know it can definitely go quicker.

“There’s some heavier artillery coming and Franco is bringing his Chevron B19, so while I will be there to defend the title, it will be a tough one to hold on to.”

According to Arton, the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb isn’t a particularly difficult or technical course, and it’s quite short at just 1.9 km – but that makes the launch absolutely critical as there’s no real opportunity to make up time.

“With the gearbox and clutch sorted I should be able to get off the line better, but the March only has about 212 hp and weighs 650 kg, so it’s light but not particularly powerful. This car is all about handling and finesse, and there aren’t too many twisty bits on the course for it to really show what it’s capable of,” Arton adds.

Aside from the March 79B, his team is bringing a total of six cars to the Hillclimb this year, three of which will be tackling the Simola Hill on Friday. This includes a rare Datsun 240Z that will be driven by rally ace Enzo Kuun, as well as a 1972 Ford Capri Perana that will be driven by Rob Coucher, classic car enthusiast and editor of Octane magazine in the UK.

“The reason we’re coming with such a big line-up, is because it’s such a fun event. Of all the events we do every year, this one’s the most fun,” Arton enthuses. “We’re not really out there to win anything or break any records, but we are there to win the party!”

Along with Arton’s 79B, a second March will be joining the fray, in the form of Ian Schofield’s 77B from 1977.

They will be going up against Franco Scribante who will be competing in the UK-built 1970 Chevron B19 in which he dominated both events at the 2014 Hillclimb, recording an overall fastest time of 41.159 sec.

After a regulation change in 2015 that prevented drivers using the same car in Classic Car Friday and King of the Hill, he used a Porsche 911 RSR for the Friday race and was second fastest, losing out to Arton by a mere 0.157 sec.

A consecutive victory looked like it was on the cards for the highly competitive Scribante, but in the final Top 10 shootout it didn’t go his way. “I could have won this event, but as I came off the line for the last run I missed second gear and lost a lot of time,” Scribante says.

“I will be back behind the wheel of the B19 that I ran in King of the Hill last year. This car is in a different league to the Porsche. With the engine management system now sorted, I’m expecting it to be a hot contender on Classic Car Friday.”

Aside from these top contenders, a total of 62 cars of all shapes, sizes and eras will be taking to the start line. Some of the other exciting cars to watch include Brian Bruce’s thundering 4.9-litre Ford GT40 Tribute, Anthony Ashley’s Opel Superboss-powered Lotus 7, Graeme Nathan’s 1972 BMW 3.0 CSI and, as always, the beautiful Jaguar E-Types entered by Ron Hollis and Alexander Krahe.

Peter Lindenberg’s team will also be a key feature of the race. He will be driving the Bob Olthoff replica 1968 Ford Fairlane V8, with daughter Paige in a Cortina Perana from the same year, and Djurk Venter in the stunning 1972 5.0-litre V8 Capri Perana.

For fans of the pre-war era there is a spectacular mix of cars including Rod Green in his Bugatti Type 37B, Roy Jones (Riley Sprite) and the Austin Sevens of the father and son team of Rod and Greig Smith.

Children receive free entry to the event and the pits on Friday.