STELLAR LINE-UP FOR SIMOLA CLASSIC CAR FRIDAY

Ian Schofield - 1989 Minardi M189 Cosworth - photo Dave Ledbitter - 2.JPG

Classic car enthusiasts, along with automotive and motorsport fans are in for a treat when this year’s Simola Hillclimb action kicks off on 3 September 2021, as the Classic Car Friday line-up will feature a stunning array of legendary road and race cars spanning more than six decades.

A total of 30 manufacturers will be represented on the 74-strong entry list – the largest yet for Classic Car Friday. Among the marques that will be present, Ford is the most prolific with 14 entrants, while Porsche is a close-run second with 13 entries. Jaguar, MG and Austin have four entries each, and the line-up includes a long list of other illustrious names such as Morgan, Lotus, AC, Ferrari, Austin-Healey, McLaren, Chevron, Alfa Romeo, BMW, Shelby, Chevrolet, Ginetta and Lola.

“Classic Car Friday is a unique opportunity to see some of the most significant road and race cars of all types dating back as far back as 1928, gathered together for a fantastic celebration of automotive history,” says Simola Hillclimb sporting director, Geoff Goddard.

The driver line-up is equally impressive, with many past and present top South African racing drivers relishing the opportunity to be part of the Simola Hillclimb, which is widely regarded as South Africa’s premier motoring and motorsport lifestyle event.

Hillclimb regular Greig Smith’s Austin Seven is the oldest car in the field. It relies on a tiny 750cc engine and stripped-down chassis derived from the ‘Baby Austin’ – a compact road car that provided affordable mobility for the British market and abroad during the 1920s and 1930s. Following WWII, many of these cars were stripped and rebuilt into affordable race cars and competed the world over – and Smith’s 1928 model is a fantastic example.

Greig Smith - 1928 Austin Seven  - photo Rob Till - 1.JPG

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the 2021 Simola Hillclimb will feature a 1989 Minardi MN189 – only the second Formula 1 car to compete at the event to date. The first was Andre Bezuidenhout’s Dallara F189 from the same year, which he raced in King of the Hill in 2016 and 2017. However, the Minardi, which is owned and driven by single-seater regular Ian Schofield, will compete in Classic Car Friday, and is undoubtedly set to be one of the top contenders for this year’s Classic Conqueror crown. According to Schofield, this particular car (chassis M189/001) has an impressive pedigree as it is probably the most successful F1 car that Minardi built. It is the only one to have started on the front row of the grid (2nd at the 1990 United States Phoenix GP), and the only Minardi to have led a grand prix lap (during the 1989 Portuguese GP).

The car reportedly went directly from the San Marino Grand Prix in 1990 into a private collection where it stood untouched for decades. “It is probably one of the most original F1 cars from that era,” Schofield explains. “Even the paint is still original, it’s a very special car.”

After purchasing the car, it was disassembled and brought to South Africa where it was meticulously rebuilt by Greg Canny and his team at DAW Racing. The 600hp (447kW) Cosworth DFR 3.5-litre V8 engine was also completely overhauled, with the crucial parts sourced from Cosworth in the UK.

It will be fascinating to see if Schofield will be able to match or beat the King of the Hill-winning time of 37.695 seconds set by Bezuidenhout in the Dallara in 2017, but all bets are that the current Classic Car Friday record is set to tumble. Bezuidenhout will be competing with his iconic and very quick Martini-liveried 1974 Porsche 911 RSR.

Andre Bezuidenhout - 1974 Porsche 911 RSR Martini - photo Rob Till - 2.jpg

Schofield won’t have an easy run to the 2021 Classic Conqueror title, as Franco Scribante will be in the hunt for his sixth win in the category. The avid racer will be competing with his immaculately prepared and very fast 1972 Chevron B26 for the first time on Classic Car Friday, having claimed all of his previous wins in the light and agile Chevron B19.

Powered by a custom-built, high-revving 2.9-litre V8 engine, Scribante powered the B26 to a KOH-winning time of 38.646 seconds in 2016. He will be keen to use the added performance of the B26 to maintain his unbroken dominance of the Friday event.

Franco Scribante - 1972 Chevron B26 - photo Colin Mileman - 2.jpg

Not quite as fast but no less appealing will be Knysna classic car collector Brian Bruce’s 1956 Jaguar D-Type Replica. Built by L&R Roadsters (now Realm Engineering) in the UK, this D-Type was produced in 1988 as a homage to the legendary D-Type (XKD501) that won the 1956 Le Mans 24-hour race – which was recently sold on auction for a staggering $22 million.

Di Dugmore is another stalwart of the Simola Hillclimb, having competed in every edition to date. For the 2021 event, Dugmore has switched from road cars to the single-seater category and will be driving a 1976 Van Diemen RP76 Formula Ford.

Di Dugmore - 1976 Van Diemen Formula Ford - from 2017 SHC - photo Rob Till.JPG

Gavin Rooke is the founder of Dutchmann, a renowned builder of bespoke classic Porsches based in Lanseria, Gauteng. He has competed in eight Simola events thus far and finished on the Classic Car Friday class podium with one of his much-loved 911s – yet for the 2021 Simola Hillclimb he has gone all-Italian with a 1974 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4.

For the Needham family, comprising father Charles and son Jonathan, their participation at the 2021 Simola Hillclimb is all about mighty Shelby Ford V8-powered muscle. Jonathan will be driving a brand new GT40 MkIII replica, which is fundamentally identical to the 1966 Le Mans-winning car, and is listed on the Shelby registry in the US. Charles will be driving his recently acquired 1998 Superformance Cobra MkIII, which is the only Cobra built under license from Shelby.

The 2021 Simola Hillclimb takes place from 3 to 5 September 2021, starting with Classic Car Friday, followed by King of the Hill on the Saturday and Sunday. Due to COVID-19 regulations, no spectators are allowed, but the entire event will be livestreamed.

For more information on the event visit www.simolahillclimb.com.

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