How and why should I watch the 2023 Simola Hillclimb

The iconic Simola Hillclimb in South Africa is set for its 13th year and judging by the action seen at the #ClassicCarFriday event, as well as the 2023 Simola Hillclimb parade, spectators are in for one of the best editions yet. If you could not make your way to Knysna in person, do not fear as there are multiple ways to virtually attend this magnificent event.

Classic Car Friday

After three years, hampered by strict COVID-19 regulations, the 2023 Simola Hillclimb is seen as the first edition to see the event return to its full glory. Customary to the history of the event, the Friday preceding the event weekend is always dedicated to classic cars.

2023’s Classic Car Friday was a highly successful event and not only crowned the third different winner in as many years, but also saw a total of 64 different entrants.

Andre Bezuidenhout as the outright record holder of the main event, was determined to add the Classic Car Friday title to his name, having run into unfortunate luck during a pit incident in 2022. The Team Perfect Circle driver managed a time of 41.715 seconds.

Franco Scribante in his 1970 Chevron B19 was determined to add a 7th title to his name, but unfortunately had to retire with an engine failure, even after setting a blistering time of 42.017 seconds during the qualifying rounds.

Ian Schofield in a 1977 March 77B Formula Atlantic finished the day in second, although he did set a fastest time of 41.674 during the finals. Losing out due to a mistake in the top-10 shootout, resulted in Bezuidenhout taking the crown.

Third place was reserved for the 2015 winner, Charles Aarton. His 1979 March 79B was severely damaged during a fire in 2017, but was fully restored, earning him the “Spirit of Dave Charlton” award.

How to watch the 2023 event

Even if viewers are not able to attend the event in person, they will still be able to attend it virtually as the whole event (over Saturday and Sunday) will be broadcast live. With coverage from the talented Sasha Martinengo and Ciro de Siena, the event will be live on the webpage. Similarly, spectators can also visit the SABC Plus app.

All the action will start at 9:00 on Saturday and finish at 17:00 on Sunday.

No excuses to miss this event

2023 welcomes some highly acclaimed names like the Solberg brothers, as well as former Formula 1 racer Mika Salo, for a total of 83 entrants.

As one of the title sponsors of the event, as in 2022, Suzuki South Africa will see five entries in total. Three Suzuki Swift Sports have entered in the A1 class and will be driven by Wesley Greybe, Kumbi Mtshakazi, and Sudhir Matai. Whilst Greybe and Matai are already known in the motorsport world, Mtshakazi will be making his debut.

These three drivers will be up against the formidable pairing of ex-racer, Deon Joubert, in the newly launched Honda Civic Type-R.

However, as motor racing should be, the priority is to have fun. Suzuki SA is out to prove that entrants can enter motorsport at any level, with the main aim of enjoying themselves. Greybe and Mtsakazi are racing automatic versions, while Matai commands a manual Swift Sport. At R419 900 (for the six-speed manual)  and R442 900 (for the six-speed automatic), the Swifts will be the least expensive, yet most sensible entries on the starting grid.

Weighing just 970kg with a 1.4 litre 4-cylinder engine (103kW and 230Nm), the Swift is actually one of the most sensible and fun hillclimb entrants. It was proven in 2022 that these cars are capable of achieving a sub-55 second run up the 1.9km long hill. 

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