Nissan will again be the marque to beat at this year’s tenth official Jaguar Simola Hill Climb in Knysna.
No less than 14 Nissan models are heading down to the scenic coastal town to make an assault on the 1.9 kilometre track, led by the two reigning King of the Hill champions, Wilhelm Baard and Reghard Roets.
Baard claimed his third Simola championship and his fourth South African hill climb title in 2018, when he piloted Armageddon – the 1 300+ horsepower R35 GT-R prepared by BB Motorsport – to the top in a record time of 39.463 seconds.
“We are so much better prepared for this year’s race,” says Baard. “At our last track tests in Gauteng, we simply tweaked the throttle settings and power delivery, all the other work, such as chassis development and engine upgrades, has already been perfected.”
In preparing his GT-R, Baard and BB Motorsport enlisted the help of NISMO, Nissan’s global motorsport division and together they ironed out the kinks that kept him from getting even faster times on the final day.
“With the car as it is, I believe we can go as low as 37 seconds up the hill,” says Baard.
In the production saloon and supercar category, all eyes will be on two-time champion Reghard Roets. Roets is hoping to make it a hat trick and has familiarised himself with his stock Melrose Nissan GT-R – backed by Nissan SA – this week, when he raced Baard around Zwartkops for some track time.
“There is little that we can do to the vehicle, since we are competing in the standard saloon division, but the R35 GT-R has already proven that it is a formidable supercar, even in standard form,” says Roets.
No less than 11 GT-Rs will race in the modified saloon and supercar categories, including a specially developed new Hillclimb GT-R from regular competitor, Franco Scribante. This GT-R features an outlandish double front wing developed by international World Time Attack specialist and rumours are that this GT-R delivers over 1 600 horsepower.
And while the R35 GT-R will be the most popular vehicle silhouette up Simola Hill, there are also other Nissan sports cars in the line-up. In class B4 for two-wheel drive modified cars, two older rear-wheel drive Nissan Skylines are competing, while Graham McLeod from the Nissan GT-R and Z Club of South Africa will compete for the crown in the naturally aspirated six-cylinder A5 class with his 370Z.
Simola will also welcome a completely different Nissan in the form of the beastly FIA-spec T1 V8 Nissan Navara of Terence Marsh and Red-Lined Motoring Adventures.
Marsh will race his Navara, which competed in the last Dakar Rally, in the B9 class for unlimited pick-ups and SUVs, with the roar of this naturally aspirated 5.6 litre V8 Nissan engine sourced from the new Nissan Patrol sure to wow the crowds.
The 2019 Jaguar Simola Hill Climb will be held from 2 – 5 May in Knysna.