2012 saw another hugely successful running of the annual Renault Knysna Hillclimb event. Now in its fourth year, the uniquely South African Knysna Speed Festival brings together a series of motoring spectacles in a week-long buzz of excitement and entertainment.
The Festival was launched in 2009 with the running of the first Simola Hillclimb. From humble beginnings, the event exploded in 2010 and 2011 and the Renault-sponsored Hillclimb, comprising Classic Car Friday and the King of the Hill Shootout, is now recognised as one of the premier events on the South African motor sport calendar.
While this year’s Classic Car Friday threatened to become an underwater event as a result of the downpour, resourceful participants used oversized umbrellas as shelter while awaiting the start of the event. Regardless of the weather, the day proved to be a nostalgic one, with entries ranging from a minuscule 1937 DKW F7 Meistertklasse Cabriolette to large Bentleys reminiscent of the 1920s, gracing the Hillclimb track with their presence.
Certainly not the fastest cars of the weekend, these classic cars proved to be some of the most memorable for the spectators and fans who braved the cold and damp to see them in action. Overall honours for the Classis Car Friday event went to Corban Slabbert who, deftly defying the elements in a compact 1965 Austin Mini Cooper S, recorded a time of 1:00.740.
The inclement weather shadowed the weekend, but did not deter drivers and their vehicles. While competition in all vehicle classes proved fierce, the only casualties of the weekend where a few cars, with their drives all walking away unscathed. Turn 3 saw action from two different cars, which both left the road in spectacular fashion on their respective run up the Simola hill.
Sunday’s highly contested King of the Hill Shootout grand finale was an all-Nissan Skyline contest with the top three drivers crossing the finish line within seconds of each other. Jade Gutzeit took pole position with a time of 41.993 while his father, Des, cruised into second place clocking up a time of 41.945. Jaki Scheckter earned a well-deserved third place recording a time of 42.020. It was unfortunate that 2011 champion, Wilhelm Baard, who put in a spectacular performance on Saturday, was unable to defend his title at Sunday’s grand finale as a result of technical problems.
Spectators were treated to a weekend of racing by some of South Africa’s top motor sport contenders – past and present. The Legends cars were great to watch and surprisingly fast when taking into account their 1 300 cc engines, with each of the four drivers putting in spectacular performances. Gugu Zulu, in particular, was a fearless crowd-pleaser.
Quick off the mark, the Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Gallardo, McLaren MP4-12C, Jaguar XKR-S and Porsche 911 and 917 exotica appeared remarkably civilised while powering up the hill. Deon Joubert, driving the Jaguar XKR-S, gave a spectacular display on how not to conserve tyre tread, leaving the spectator stands shrouded in blue smoke and the smell of burning rubber after he’d finished spinning the Jag up an down the road in a masterful display of driving skill.
The Renault Meganes never failed to please and were very quick up the Hillclimb track. Deon Joubert took top honours in the motoring journalists’ Renault Challenge with a time of 49.549, with our editor, Scott Hayes, taking second place with an overall fastest time of 50.315, followed closely by the Star Motoring’s Jesse Adams, who posted a fastest time of 50.419 on the weekend.
|King of the Hill Results|
|1||Jade Gutzeit||Nissan Skyline ’10||41.933|
|2||Des Gutzeit||Nissan Skyline ’06||41.945|
|3||Jaki Scheckter||Nissan Skyline ’10||42.020|
|4||Darron Gudmanz||Nissan Skyline ’08||42.374|
|5||Greg Parton||Nissan Skyline ’10||43.182|
|6||Shane Gutzeit||Nissan Skyline ’10||43.874|
|7||Leon Loubser||Nissan Skyline ’99||43.917|
|8||Geoff Mortimer||Mitsubishi Evo 9 ’08||44.276|
|9||Mike Beachy Head||Porsche 917 Le Mans ’73 Replica||46.477|
|10||Thouca Mechanicos||Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG ’04||53.861|