Knysna climb to lure in the legends

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Before the Friday opening of the annual Jaguar Simola Knysna Hill Climb, a large collection of rare and expensive old timers are hauled out of the garage, dusted off and given the once-over.

The owners of some of South Africa’s rarest and most beautiful classics prepare to fight for the precious crown of the champion of the hill. The gleaming monsters of old are oiled and fuelled up. Tyres are checked, brakes bled and radiators topped up for the challenge.

This year Classic Car Friday takes place on May 15. And if you think the old timers are slow, think again. Last year, Franco Scribante, a member of the Eastern Cape motorsport family, drove his classic orange Gunston Chevron B19 race car to victory both on Classic Car Friday and in the main event, putting some modern automotive noses out of joint.

FINEST CARS AND DRIVERS

And, if there ever was any doubt that Friday’s Knysna Hill Climb represents the pinnacle of this country’s automotive revelry, the length of the entry list for the event should dispel such misconceptions, said race spokesman Colin Mileman.

“After all, there’s no other event in the country where you’ll find everything from historic grand prix cars dating back to the 1920s and ’30s to thundering sports cars from the ’60s and some of the finest big name racers from the 1970s being driven in anger – all against the clock and fully accessible to spectators throughout the day,” Mileman said.

“The 2015 event also sees the largest number of entries yet, with the allocated 50 slots over-subscribed soon after the entries were opened.

“Organisers have elected to accept a total of 53 entries for the Friday programme, 12 more than entered last year,” Mileman said.

The rules of this colourful contest cater for a wide range of vehicles grouped into eight distinct classes, starting off with the “pre-war cars” in Class H1. Certainly one of the most impressive entries here is Rodney Green’s impressive and ultra-rare 1929 Bugatti 35B Grand Prix racer, which features a supercharged eight-cylinder engine.

The next two categories account for road cars, with pre-1966 models in H2 featuring famous marques such as Austin-Healey, Sunbeam, Marcos and, naturally, Jaguar’s seductive E-type. Pre-1975 road cars competing in Class H3 encompass the likes of Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Pontiac.

ROARING ‘60S AND BEYOND

It’s back to the roaring ’60s for pre-1966 single-seater and sports racing cars in H4, which includes Dave Alexander’s 1964 Alfa Romeo F1 car, Peter Lindenberg’s mighty Shelby Daytona Coupe along with a brace of Ford GT40s – including one driven by last year’s runner-up, Ross Lazarus.

The more recent pre-1980 category comprises just two entries, Lew Baker’s 1967 Mallock Ford TC Mk 6B, and Charles Arton’s stunning 1979 March 79B Formula Atlantic racer. This was originally former Formula One driver Derek Daly’s car as campaigned in the US, and is powered by a 1600 Ford BDA engine matched to a Hewland FT200 gearbox.

Saloon racing cars with four-cylinder engines which competed prior to 1980 make up H6, including popular models such as Paige Lindenberg’s 1968 Ford Escort and Peter Kaye-Eddie’s BMW 2002 from the same year.

Class H7, which hosts saloon racers powered by rotary, six-cylinder or eight-cylinder engines, is dominated by Porsche entries.

This year, reigning champion Franco Scribante will be campaigning a 1974 911 Carrera RSR, instead of his speedy Chevron. This year, a rule change prevents drivers from competing in the same car on Classic Car Friday as well as King of the Hill, so he is preserving the bright orange bolt of mechanical lightning to defend the main title.

He is joined by three other 911s from the late ’60s and ’70s.

Finally, Class H8 is made up of re-created cars that conform to the original vehicle’s silhouette, but use modern running gear.

The programme for Classic Car Friday will keep spectators enthralled throughout the day.

It comprises three open practice runs and two qualifying runs for all classes.

The three fastest competitors from each class proceed to the final, which involves a single-run shootout to determine the positions and the winner of each class.

Thereafter, the action and excitement steps up a gear or two as the 10 fastest competitors overall go head-to-head in the final shoot-out, setting off in reverse order with the aim of setting the fastest time on the 1.9km Hill, and being crowned the Classic Conqueror for 2015.

Cape Argus

Original source: Knysna climb to lure in the legends

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