Franco Scribante yet again stamped his authority on the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb’s Classic Car Friday event winning his fifth Classic Conqueror title, and fourth in a row, in thrilling fashion.
The tenth edition of the legendary Knysna event dawned wet and cold on Friday morning, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the 61 competitors that lined up for the start, nor for the thousands of fans that turned up for the first day of action.
With the rain fortunately subsiding by the time the first of the practice sessions commenced, the 1.9km road was wet and slippery for the opening runs, but it soon dried and allowed the drivers to push their classic and iconic machines to the limit.
Scribante appeared to be in a class of his own through most of the day in the impeccable 1970 Chevron B19. His closest challenge, as expected, came from Andre Bezuidenhout in a 1976 Lola Cosworth Formula Atlantic single-seater, who steadily narrowed the gap to his long-standing rival – but remained almost one second adrift of the reigning champion’s final qualifying run of 42.512 seconds.
162km/h average speed!
During the crucial Class Finals, Scribante set his fastest time of the day of 42.056sec, which was 0.14sec faster than his best time from 2018 – despite the much cooler conditions – and a mere half a second off his unbeaten Classic Car Friday record of 41.554sec in the 2017 event. He achieved an average speed of over 162km/h from a standing start for the 1.9km course. This gave him the Class H5 title ahead of Bezuidenhout and Peter Jenkins (1971 Chevron B19).
Scribante said: “My start wasn’t great as there was a bit of a miscommunication between the officials on the start line, so I lost my concentration a bit which caused me to miss second gear after pulling off. After that I knew that I had to go for it, and from there on I had an absolutely perfect run. It doesn’t get closer than that, which made for a great race.”
Bezuidenhout was gracious in defeat: “I tried as hard as I could and went almost a full second faster in the final run, but Franco was just that little bit quicker and deserves the win. It was great racing and amazing camaraderie as always on this event – and I had lots of fun.”