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Simola2021

In the thick of negotiations, Simola 2021 and its preparations had to take a back seat for what otherwise would have been my best prepared SimolaHC to date.

Between forfeiting the first nights accomodation, (booked months in advance), and the prospect of another “drive through the night” in an untested classic “racecar” (read: potentially no lights), the proposition of a 2021 Nissan Navara, courtesy of Motus Nissan Parow, became an increasingly
comfortable option.

As a veteran of 5 climbs, 6 including 2020, I allow myself certain indiscretions, like selectively reading the Official Documentation, assuming this year would be the same as last. Turns out, thanks to Covid-19, things would be different this year. Self Scrutineering & Documentation, no drivers parade through town and drivers briefing by WhatsApp, effectively reducing Classic Friday to Just Friday. Sort of like a relay bring & braai with no guests, but with classic cars, a hill and no spectators.

With no track time, no proper shakedown and only one spirited drive to make sure nothing serious was at obvious risk of falling off mid corner (or anywhere else), amidst distracting negotiations, I quickly accepted that simply making it through the day in one piece would a great result!

Mass confusion in the Pit Lane as the Marshall authoritatively directed me to box allocated to 67, despite my repeated protests that the number on the my car door was the model year and not my Race Number.

With this cleared up, I returned to my correct Pit Box where the Scrutineering Marshall insisted I was “Tuck”. Eventually managed to convince the Marshall that I was indeed “Baud”, also in an Alfa Romeo… albeit a much slower one and that I had seen, on social media, that “Tuck” was in Knysna but was probably recovering from some kind of celebration. Although at this point, I was starting to wonder if I was not maybe “Tuck”! Ahh, “Baud” he exclaimed proudly, with a disappointing look on his face, ‘you are right behind “Tuck”, who has not arrived yet?’.

And without much more ado, we were off.

Practice 1:
Lot faster than anticipated, already in 4th gear by turn 2, previously in 3rd, braked, then over braked losing momentum, accelerated up the hill, again 4th and still pulling, 1750 would have run out of steam and back to third gear, braked, over braked again losing momentum. Tyres at 2.1 Bar, sliding all over the place. 1.08 something, just two seconds slower than my previous best with a lot of scope for improvement.

Practice 2: Tyres dropped to 1.7 Bar all round, proper burnout to warm the tyres, over enthusiastic change to second gear and somehow 3rd and 4th were not available. Hook 5th and manage to slowly drive up the hill with braking, making the best of the run. 1.27 something.

Practice 3: cancelled to bring event back on time.

Qualifying 1:
Frantically strip gearbox console looking for anything obvious blocking 3rd or 4th gear. Nothing, reassemble just in time to take my position. Manage to select every gear on the way to start line. 3,2,1, go! Feather off the line, delicately change to second, heart in mouth as I attempt 3rd, nothing, 4th, nothing, hook 5th before turn 2 and drive up the hill as smoothly as possible. 1.15 something.
Ecstatic.

With so much going on, decide to call it a day while everything is still in one piece. Besides, negotiations are about to kick off In JHB, so by now Im pretty distracted, besides, Ive had my fun.

About to load the car on the trailer, “Tuck” arrives and offers to repair my gear selector problem…

Another absolutely epic event, unfortunately without spectators. After considering to call it a day after 2019, I’m
Pleased I entered the #RescueMod. I’m particularly pleased with the performance, with more power and handling to come. I’m particularly proud of this project and everyone who had a finger in it.
Bring on sub 60 second Simola 2022!

Simola Hill Climb 2021
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