2011 Renault Knysna Hillclimb & Speed Festival

From soapboxes to Supervan, slot cars to a kart grand prix, the 2011 Knysna Speed Festival promises a week of motoring action.

Building on the success of the Renault Knysna Hillclimb, which first took place in 2009 and has since led to a bigger and more involving event in 2010, the organisers have opted to run the climb as the climax of a week-long festival of speed in 2011.

To take advantage of more favourable weather, the Knysna Speed Festival commences on May 13/14 with an innovative and spectacular Kart Grand Prix to be run as a day/night race (like the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix) on Thesen Island Harbour Town, a street circuit unparalleled anywhere in the world. Counting for both the Western Province club and Eastern Province regional karting championships, the grand prix will surely be a hotly-contested affair between the high-speed, all-action karts.

Sunday May 15 will be a more relaxed day with the annual Garden Route Motor Club’s car show being held on the Knysna High School sports field on Waterfront Drive. A wealth of auto classics will be on view, together with displays from the local motor trade.

From Monday 16 to Wednesday 18 it is planned to hold a slot car challenge at the Knysna Slot Car Club’s premises in the centre of town. At this stage, details have still to be finalised but the intention is to have a challenge for schoolchildren during daytime and for adults in the evenings. Lots of itchy thumbs will be flexed controlling these miniature racers around the club’s challenging, purpose-built, multi-lane track that will provide plenty of thrills and spills.

Thursday May 19 is allocated to a charity golf day at the Simola Resort at which motorsport celebrities will be teamed up with regular golfers for a fun day on the fairways. Will the stars drive their clubs as well as their cars? Local charities will be the winners at this fun event.

May 20 is ‘free fall Friday’ when 20 of the local schools will compete in a Soapbox Derby. The local schools will be provided with soapbox kits donated by local businesses, and it will be left to the children to assemble, paint and, ultimately, pilot their machines down a portion of the Simola Hill. Also on the Friday, from 14h15 there will be a parade of many of the cars involved in the festival – and especially the Hillclimb – driving through the centre of town before being put on display in the Waterfront, a cavalcade that over the last two years has proved to be a major attraction for residents and visitors alike.

The festival’s star event will be the Renault Knysna Hillclimb, run over a two kilometre course up the hill to the entrance of Simola Country Estate. Entries are now open but the field will be limited to 80 vehicles and amongst the star drivers expected to entertain the crowds are the previous two year’s winners, Sarel van der Merwe and Geoff Mortimer, along with Ian and Jaki Scheckter, Robbie Smith and, making his event début, Grant McCleery. Travelling from France especially for the event will be former world motocross champion Jean-Michel Bayle who will compete in a Renault. The types of cars that will be on view encompass road cars, racing saloons and single-seaters, sportscars and the ever-popular and soul-stirring historics, all of which will run throughout the Saturday and Sunday.

The 2011 Renault Knysna Hillclimb is bound to be a motorsport spectacular.

Further information can be found on the festival’s website www.speedfestival.co.za.

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