GT-Rs humble all but one at Simola Hillclimb
Nissan GT-Rs dominate the annual event, despite Mortimer's efforts
The third annual Renault Simola Hillclimb was the perfect end to the inaugural Knysna Speed Festival. The event, run up 1,9 km of the hill up to the Simola Estate, once again ended with a tight finish that saw the lone Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX driven by Geoff Mortimer take the fight to a quartet of savage Nissan GT-Rs.
Mortimer, who won last year’s hillclimb by a 0,2-second margin, was under pressure as soon as early practice got under way on Saturday. As the weekend progressed and the drivers got into their rhythms, it was clear that the title headed to one of three men – Mortimer, last year’s runner-up Wilhelm Baard, and Jade Gudzeit, who was just managing to keep his father Des at bay.
Just after lunch on Sunday, the fastest cars in each class had a final run up the demanding Simola Hill and, by virtue of running in entry number order, Wilhelm did his run before his rivals and threw down the gauntlet with a time of 42,444 seconds – at an incredible average speed of 161,152 km/h (practically the Imperial ton – 100 miles per hour). Des and Jade soon followed: Des failed to break into the 42-second bracket while Jade managed a 42,659-second run – two-tenths of a second slower than Wilhelm. 74-year-old Geoff was the last to go and everyone held their breath waiting for announcer Roger McCleery to give his time – 43,108 seconds, only good enough for third place.
So, a very emotional Wilhelm Baard became the third King Of The Hill, a highly popular climax to what has been an exciting festival of speed in the Garden Route’s award-winning town of Knysna. Deon Joubert took home the top honours in the Renault Brat Pack Challenge – which pitted the Capetonian against former racing rivals Duncan Vos, Robbi Smith, Mike Briggs, Geoff Goddard and Grant McCleery.
Red Bull athletes also entertained the growing crowd at the event: Glen Dell with heart-stopping aerobatics and Brain Capper with his unbelievable bike control and stunt riding.
Renault Simola Hillclimb Results
Top 5 time
1 Wilhelm Baard Nissan GT-R R35 42,444
2 Jade Gudzeit Nissan GT-R 42,659
3 Geoff Mortimer Mitsubishi Evo IX 43,108
4 Des Gudzeit Nissan GT-R 43,558
5 Greg Parton Nissan GT-R R35 44,741
A1 Geoff Mortimer Mitsubishi Evo IX 43,108
A2 Wilhelm Baard Nissan GT-R R35 42,444
A3 Andrew Waller Audi R8 47,132
A4 Alex de Nagy Koves Hrabar Honda Prelude 51,229
A5 Johan Zulch BMW 325 55,930
A6 Avril Kaschula Audi R8 V10 48,680
B1 Leeroy Poulter Toyota Aygo Crazy 50,799
B2 Jade Gudzeit Nissan GT-R 42,659
B3 Thouca Mechanicos Mercedes C55 45,403
B4 Nico van Rensburg VW CitiGolf 52,844
B5 Chris Carolin Mazda Rotary 49,385
B6 Fabio Tafani Ashley V8 45,194
C3 Mike Beachey-Head Porsche 917 replica 49,756
C4 Scott Joubert Ariel Atom 48,395
Kart John Amm 250 50,248
Steve Crook 1963 Lotus Elan 56,153
Renault Brat Pack Challenge
Deon Joubert Mégane RS Cup 49,710
Renault Gordini Media Challenge
Ashley Oldfield – Topcar Clio Gordini 53,422