Franco Scribante wrote his name into the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb record books in Knysna yesterday by becoming the first-ever double winner of Classic Car Friday (CCF).
Driving his 1970 Chevron B19 with which he secured the 2014 title, Scribante also set an all-new CCF lap record for the 1.9 km Hillclimb course of 41.432 sec, beating his own fastest winning time from two years ago of 41.811 sec.
Almost 50 cars lined up for the start in cool and damp conditions, with persistent drizzle making the route even more challenging than usual. This resulted in the early practice session topping out at 53.121 sec, led by Clive Corder in his roaring 1969 Lola T70 Mk3B.
Brent Watts was quickest in the very slippery second practice, setting a time of 54.223 sec in his 1973 Porsche 911 RSR.
Scribante, surprisingly, failed to make the first two practice sessions, breaking a driveshaft as he pulled out the pits for his first run. New driveshafts were fitted in record time, and he immediately set the pace for the third practice on 51.457 sec.
Fortunately, the Hillclimb course progressively dried out during the ensuing three qualifying runs, with Scribante topping the results on each occasion as the times tumbled, dropping from 47.397 sec in Q1 to 43.537 sec in Q2 and ultimately to 41.816 sec in the final qualifying session – just 0,005 sec slower than his 2014 record.
The Scribante-Chevron combination landed up effectively being in a class of its own this year, heading into finals with a margin of 6 sec over second-placed Watts. The highly anticipated challenge from outgoing Classic Car Friday champion, Charles Arton, sadly never materialised, as his March 79B Formula Atlantic single-seater blew two engines in the week preceding the Hillclimb, thus relegating him to watching from the sidelines.
The running order at the sharp end of the qualifying field was echoed in the Classic Conqueror final one-run dash, with the top 10 competitors setting off in slowest-to-quickest order based on their best qualifying performance.
Ian Schofield (1977 March 77B) and Graeme Nathan (1972 BMW 3.0 CSL) had qualified for the Top 10 shootout, in 5th and 6th places respectively, but both were forced to withdraw at that late stage due to clutch failures.
This promoted the fastest female driver in the field, Donny Lamola, into the shooutout in her 1972 Dulon Formula Ford, and she set her fastest time of the day at 53.854 sec, which earned her eighth overall.
Djurk Venter (1972 Ford Capri Perana) set off ninth, but a slow pull-off saw him finish in 10th place with a final time of 55.348 sec. He was narrowly beaten by Jan Vosloo in a 1973 Porsche 911 RS (55.102 sec).
Peter Lindenberg was next up in the thundering 1968 Ford Fairlane V8 and improved his qualifying time by almost a full second to cross the line sixth on 52.395 sec, dropping Kobus Brits (1967 Porsche 911R) back a place into seventh on 52.686 sec.
Josh Dovey also surged up The Hill with his best time of the day, securing fifth place on 50.284 sec in a 1964 Lotus Elan S2. Rally ace Enzo Kuun was fourth fastest on 49.412 sec in the rare 1972 Datsun 240z, close on the heels of Corder in the mighty V8 Lola sports racing car (49.124 sec).
Runner-up status went to Watts on 48.204 sec, but it was Scribante that dominated the race, scything his way up The Hill in a record-breaking time for Classic Car Friday of 41.432 sec to win the Classic Conqueror title for 2016 – thus giving him the exclusive status of the first-ever double winner for the classic event.
From a standing start, the Chevron B19 covered the tricky 1.9 km course at an average speed of 165 km/h – impressive stuff indeed!
“It was great for my team and I to win our second Classic Car Friday, and set a new lap record in the process,” a delighted Scribante said.
“With all the work the team has done on the car I actually expected to be a bit quicker, but the course was quite slippery and dirty. Also I didn’t have anyone close to my times, so it wasn’t necessary to push exceptionally hard in order to find an extra couple of tenths.
“The new sections of tar have definitely made the route better, but some of the other sections that haven’t been redone are bumpier than last year. If it’s dry for the rest of the weekend the times will definitely be a lot quicker for King of the Hill as more rubber is laid down over the next two days.”
Class winners, CCF ‘Spirit of Dave Charlton’ Award
Aside from determining the list of finalists for the Top 10 shootout, each competitor’s best qualifying time for the day dictated their class-qualifying results – with only the top three progressing to the class finals. A one-lap dash up the twisty Simola hill ultimately decided the podium positions for each category.
In Class H1 for pre-war cars, Rodney Green once again led the way in his immaculate 1929 Bugatti Type 35b Grand Prix racer (1 min 10.537 sec). Fittingly, he also earned the inaugural CCF ‘Spirit of Dave Charlton’ Award and a floating trophy that six-times SA single-seater champion Charlton won at the last Formula 1 event held in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia).
“This special award recognises the person that reflects Dave Charlton’s spirit of impeccable attention to detail, meticulous preparation and commendable performance,” said Ian Shrosbree, founder and director of the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb. “Having competed in all seven Hillclimbs to date, Rodney embodies the spirit and sportsmanship that this event is all about, and he’s a deserving winner of this floating trophy for 2016.”
Josh Dovey won Class H2 for pre-1966 road cars in his 1964 Lotus Elan S2, covering the course in 51.062 sec. The pre-1975 category (H3) was won by Brent Watts in his rapid 1973 Porsche 911 RSR (49.250 sec), with Pierre Rousseau leading Class H4 for race-bred cars from the same era in a 1957 Austin Healey Sprite Mk1 (1 min 08.719 sec).
Scribante was untouchable in Class H5 for pre-1980 race cars with a time of 41.601 sec for the class final.
Robert Rowe emerged victorious in H6 in a 1976 BMW 2002 Tii Turbo (55.746 sec), with Enzo Kuun topping H7 in the Datsun 240z (49.434 sec). Richard Evans won Class H8 in his iconic 1959 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster with a time of 1 min 02.301 sec.
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