WATCH: Out to prove racing can be accessible, Suzuki Swifts beat own Simola Hillclimb record

Published May 7, 2024


Suzuki South Africa wrapped up the Simola Hillclimb in Knysna in grand style taking all three podium positions in Class A1.

Not only that, but the three Suzuki Swift Sports broke their lap record from the previous two years as well.

Class A1 is for cars powered by a factory-fitted four cylinder engine with forced induction (turbo or supercharged).

The Swift Sport is powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 103kW and 230Nm sending power to the front wheels via either a six speed manual or six speed automatic transmission.

All three cars used this year were automatic to level the playing fields for the drivers.

Behind the wheel were advanced driving instructor Wesley Greybe and motoring journalists Brendon Staniforth (Maroela Media) and Thomas Falkiner (Times Live).

“All three drivers have racing experience, so we decided to put them in matching cars to level the playing field. The results were even better than expected, with good old rivalry pushing all three drivers beyond the times we set in previous years,” said Chelsy Pinto, Assistant Manager: Product Planning and Sales Development and Suzuki Race Team Manager.

“We had hoped that we could beat our 2023 times, but we didn’t expect it to be by such a large margin.”

“All three drivers set times that were faster than the fastest times in previous years and both Falkiner and Greybe broke through the 54 second barrier. In the end, Falkiner set an all-time record time in a Suzuki Swift of 53.551 seconds.”

All three cars raced in every run including the practice and warm ups up the 1.9km stretch of tar and combining their previous visits to the Hill, makes it 288 runs without any mechanical issues.

Apart from the three works Swift Sports, this year there was a privateer that joined in his five-year-old Sport with just over 90,000 kilometres on the clock.

“I saw the Suzuki guys enjoying themselves so much in previous years, so I decided to enter my own Swift Sport this year,” said Giles Missing.

“We decided to support the Simola Hill Climb as they emerged from the lockdown with restrictions on crowd attendance and a general loss of momentum,” said Brendon Carpenter, Brand Marketing Manager at Suzuki Auto South Africa.

“Motoring can be fun and exciting and it should be accessible to more people. That is our philosophy at Suzuki Auto, and we found the same thinking among the organisers of the Hill Climb.

“From making the pit lane accessible to spectators to streaming the entire event online, they have been working hard to make fun and exciting motoring more accessible,” he said.

They also used the platform to launch the third-generation Suzuki Hayabusa and the Suzuki GSX-S1000 GX Sport Crossover motorcycles.

Suzuki launched new-generation bikes at the Hillclimb. Picture: Supplied.

As is the case every year the event attracted a wide range of cars and for the first time almost every form of fuel was present.

Cars powered by petrol, diesel, hydrogen and EV all threw in their lot for the King of the Hill title.

Ultimately it went to Robert Wolk in the Single Seater, Sports Car and Sports Prototypes category with the 1989 Pillbeam MP58 - a specialised hillclimb car powered by an Infinity Indycar V8 engine.

He posted the fastest official time of 37.133 seconds during the Class Finals and in the Top 10 Shootout, he crossed the timing beam in 37.403 seconds to take the top prize.

2024 Simola King of the Hill. Picture: Supplied.

In the bonkers class B for Modified Saloon Cars the much anticipated battle between the Nissan GT-Rs of five-time winner Franco Scribante and last year’s runner up Reghard Roets was cut short before the final runs as a result of drivetrain problems.

That left the door open for Dawie Joubert in his lightweight Lotus Exige, powered by a twin-turbocharged Ferrari 488 engine.

His time of 38.405 seconds (at an average speed of 178.102 km/h) was enough to secure the title and the first rear wheel drive winner in three years.

2024 Simola Hillclimb Results

Road Cars and Supercars

  • A1: Thomas Falkiner – Suzuki Swift Sport: 53.784 sec
  • A2: Nico Nel – BMW M135i xDrive: 56.928 sec
  • A3: Farhaad Ebrahim – Toyota Supra: 45.264 sec
  • A4: JP van der Walt – Porsche 911 Turbo S: 43.513 sec
  • A5: Dayaan Padayachey – Porsche Cayman GTS: 49.322 sec
  • A6: Gordon Nicholson – Audi R8 V10 Plus: 47.003 sec
  • A7: James Temple – Shelby Mustang Super Snake: 47.833 sec
  • A8: Clint Weston – Mercedes-AMG GT63 E-Performance: 44.134 sec

Modified Saloon Cars

  • B1: Shuaib Dhansay – Ford Fiesta: 57.850 sec
  • B2: Daniel Rowe – Volkswagen Polo SupaCup: 44.058 sec
  • B4: Dawie Joubert – Lotus Exige (Ferrari V8): 38.966 sec
  • B5: Aldo Scribante – Audi S4: 41.413 sec
  • B6: Paul Munro – BMW M3: 46.874 sec
  • B7: Pieter Joubert – Lotus Exige (Mercedes-AMG V8): 43.373 sec
  • B9: Arnold du Plessis – Nissan Patrol Black Hawk): 54.457 sec
  • B10: Steve Clark – Nissan R34 GT-R: 43.544 sec

Single Seater, Sports Car and Sports Prototypes

  • C2: Ian Schofield – Mygale SJ Formula Ford: 42.048 sec
  • C3: Robert Wolk – Pillbeam MP58 (Infinity Indycar V8): 37.133 sec
  • C4: Josef Kotze – Birkin S3 (Toyota): 54.411 sec
  • C6: Rui Campos – Shelby CanAm (Ford V8): 41.826 sec