- Scribante first double winner of King of the Hill
- Jaki Scheckter SuperCar Shootout champion in GT-R
- Dramatic finale played out to a record crowd
RECORD RUN – TWO WINS: Franco Scribante won the 2016 Knysna Hillclimb double on Sunday. Image: Quickpic
Special Correspondent Colin Mileman
KNYSNA, South Africa – Two thrilling days of unprecedented motor racing action ended with the seventh edition of the Simola Hillclimb crowning its first double winner of the King of the Hill.
Franco Scribante produced a record time of 38.646sec in his 1972 Chevron B26 to repeat the ‘double’ of winning both the 2014 Classic Car Friday and King of the Hill in 2014.
Scribante also won of ‘The Jody’, a special hand-crafted wooden trophy introduced this year and inspired by South Africa’s only Formula 1 champion, Jody Scheckter.
Main organiser Ian Shrosbree said 2015’s record attendance of 12 200 spectators over the three days was topped: “We don’t have the final numbers yet but we definitely passed 13 000.”
Des Gutzeit in his radical 1500hp Nissan GT-R, was second to Scribante’s awesome average speed of 177km/h – the latter also taking his second Classic Conqueror title on Classic Car.
‘BUSHES OR BUST’ LAST EFFORT
However, King of the Hill wasn’t without drama: Scribante’s weekend nearly ended in disaster when the Chevron’s suspension failed during the fourth qualifying session on Sunday morning and sent the car off the course at high speed at the end of the main straight.
The Scribante Racing team put a Herculean effort in to get the Chevron repaired and back in contention for the sixth and final qualifying run.
Scribante said. “When Des went out and did a 40.9 I thought the track had become slower and I wasn’t sure I could break 40 again. I decided ‘do-or-die!’ – top step of the podium or in the bushes.
“To score the double is amazing. I know you need a bit of luck but I’ll take it any way it comes – this really is a dream result.”
STRONG CHALLENGE FROM SINGLE-SEATERS
Gutzeit was gracious in defeat: “We gave it everything we could and I simply couldn’t go any faster. The car performed faultlessly but there was simply no way we could match Franco’s pace in our heavier tin-top car.
“We’ll see how it goes in 2017.”
Other than Gutzeit in the rip-roaring GT-R, there was also a strong challenge from two single-seater contenders during the practice and qualifying – both newcomers to the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb.
Jaki Scheckter was elated when he topped the SuperCar Shoot-out for showroom-specification sports and supercars in a factory-backed Nissan GT-R with a time of 43.591sec.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win the new SuperCar Shootout,” he said. “The car worked perfectly the whole weekend, and I have to thank Nissan for giving me this opportunity to compete in a GT-R.”
Dawie Olivier, driving for the event’s main sponsor, was second after taking a Jaguar F-Type R Coupé AWD to 45.18 sec and Ernst du Preez was third in a McLaren 650s in 45.826se).
King of the Hill ‘Spirit of Dave Charlton’ award
Geoff Mortimer won thjis new floating trophy. This original cup was won by legendary six-times SA single-seater champion Charlton at the last Formula 1 event held in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia).
As the 2010 Hillclimb winner, 79-year-old Mortimer remains one of the event’s fastest drivers, and his commitment to the sport is unmatched. He looked set for a strong performance this year and was one of the contenders for the Top 10 King of the Hill shoot-out in his modified Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
An electrical fault that plagued his Saturday session and returned on Sunday so he could only complete two of the day’s qualifying sessions with a best time of 44.119sec.
The Hillclimb’s sporting director, Geoff Goddard, said: “Mortiner is a true gentleman and embodies the spirit of motor racing at is finest, making him a deserving winner of the inaugural KOH Spirit of Dave Charlton trophy.”