• The 2022 Simola Hillclimb saw Suzuki South Africa come on board as a major sponsor.
• The Japanese automaker has a rich international Hillclimb history, making it a sensible decision to partner with the Simola Hillclimb.
• The automaker raced two of its Swift Sport models up the 1.9km hill.
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The 2022 Simola Hillclimb was undoubtedly the best iteration of the event yet. The 12th edition of South Africa's premier Hillclimb event took place under various weather conditions, but Sunday 8 May's main running was done under clear skies.
On Saturday, the first day of the King of the Hill shootout, the weather gods decided to rain down on Knysna and leave the quaint town with plenty to ponder about as everyone looked for the nearest hot spot. Only in the Simola region, the wet roads and pools of mud could not deter competitors and the live audience from missing a single beat of the action.
The morning of day 1's running of the King of the Hill challenge saw the event occur in challenging conditions, with several drivers going off the track and bringing about temporary stoppages. It dried up around the afternoon, but drizzle returned in the afternoon.
On Sunday, though, the track was clear, and could the runners go about the final qualifying rounds before the shootout at the day's end. When the business end came around, 2021 King of the Hill André Bezuidenhout retained his crown and set a new record in the process. Improving his time by 0.8 seconds, the driver blitzed up the Hill in 34.161 seconds, with an average speed of 201.18km/h from a standing start!
Confirming his 2023 participation, Bezuidenhout said: "With that 34.1 second time, a 33 must be possible, so I'm definitely coming back!"
It's all about the atmosphere
The Simola Hillclimb began in 2010, but few could have imagined the event turning out the way it did. It solidified itself as one of the must-attend events on the motoring calendar, drawing interest from both local and international enthusiasts.
This year's event also saw spectators return, and it was great seeing the audience engage with the participants. With the pitlane open to spectator viewing, it was a hub of activity as drivers pulled in and out of their pits, negotiating the live audience, and marshals maintaining order with a firm hand.
And it is for this very reason, this excitement, Suzuki South Africa got involved as a major sponsor in the Simola Hillclimb. Brendon Carpenter, Brand Marketing Manager of Suzuki Auto South Africa, summarised their reason for sponsoring the event for a second year: "Suzuki has a proud history at various Hillclimbs, most notably with Monster Tajima and his powerful modified Suzukis at Pikes Peak. And now we can add the sterling performance of the Suzuki Swift Sport to that legacy."
Suzuki South Africa competed in the Hillclimb with two Swift Sport models, both cars achieving the goal of completing the 1.9km run in under 55 seconds.