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2018 King of the Hill: Times tumble, Nissan dominates

May 11 , 2018

The 2018 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb delivered an enthralling mix of thrills and excitement, with some stunning new records being set on the Simola Hill – both amongst the competitors’ times, as well as the number of spectators attending the three-day event.

More than 17 000 people attended the ninth edition of the Hillclimb, held in Knysna from 4 to 6 May, about 2000 more than last year’s record-breaking attendance.

Records tumbled

When the action drew to a close, all-new King of the Hill records had been established in each of the three categories, but the times between many of the top contenders were closer than ever, which kept the fans on their toes right to the end of the nail-biting programme.

Apart from the battle being waged between the competitors, the throngs of fans had plenty of other attractions – most notably the daring antics of Jaguar’s world-renowned stunt driver and multiple record-holder Terry Grant.

Image: Motorpress

The British ace entertained the crowds by not just driving up the 1.9km Simola Hill in the Jaguar F-Pace, but doing so the whole way on two wheels! He had several celebrities, including singer Bobby van Jaarsveld and Springbok rugby captain Eben Etzebeth, as passengers along on the hair-raising rides for a remarkable once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Single Seaters and Sportscars

Andre Bezuidenhout was the undisputed King of the Hill at the 2017 edition of the Hillclimb in his 1989 Dallara F189 Formula One car, and his aim for the 2018 event was to go even quicker in the recently acquired Gould GR55 – a specialist Hillclimb single-seater built in the United Kingdom with much-improved aerodynamics and a paddle-shift transmission.

Even though he had limited seat time in the Gould leading up to the Hillclimb, he was astonishingly quick throughout the weekend, and wrapped up the qualifying sessions with a best time of 36.006 seconds – more than 1.1 sec quicker than his best time last year in the Dallara.

Signalling his clear intent, Bezuidenhout established a new official Hillclimb record during the one-lap Class Finals with an impressive time of 36.428 seconds.

If that wasn’t remarkable enough, he absolutely destroyed the current lap record – and the opposition – with an all-new time of 35.528 seconds in the King of the Hill Top 10 Shootout. That translates to an average speed of 192.52km/h, from a standing start!

Bezuidenhout said: “I felt confident throughout the weekend that a 35-second time was possible but was slightly worried when the temperature dropped in the late afternoon for the final run. The Gould is an amazing car, and the team I had supporting me was superb.

“It has been an amazing weekend, and this is an exceptional event. I can’t think of another motorsport event where so many people stay right to the end and are so enthusiastic. I have to say well done to the organisers and sponsors.”

Image: Motorpress

Robert Wolk was another prominent presence throughout the two days of racing, competing this time in a Ferrari V8-powered A1 GP car.

He put in a solid effort to both learn the new [...]