Knysna - The 2019 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb has finally kicked off, with what promises to be the most thrilling and competitive edition yet.

And if you haven’t managed to get yourself down to Knysna to witness all the action in person, the organisers are once again livestreaming the event on YouTube:

So what can you expect from the weekend?

The action kicks off on Friday morning (May 3) with Classic Car Friday, followed by the King of the Hill Shootout on Saturday and Sunday. The live streaming kicks off at 8:45 each morning, and ends after each day’s prize giving at 16h15 on Friday and Sunday, and 17h00 on Saturday.

All eyes will be on Andre Bezuidenhout in the Single Seater and Sports Car category, who set new outright Hillclimb records in both 2017 and 2018 - and fans will no doubt be keen to see if he can set the bar even higher this year. That bar currently stands at 35.528 seconds for the 1.9km course, achieved at an astounding average speed of 192.52km.

Another one to watch is double champion Robert Wolk, who has provided the most competitive challenge thus far in his 2009 Ferrari-powered single-seater from the ill-fated A1 GP series. Wolk had to be content with runner-up status in the Top 10 Shootout last year, ending 2.1 seconds off Bezuidenhout’s time - but there’s no doubt Wolk will use his extensive single-seater experience as a multiple Formula Ford champion to give it his best shot.

Putting a completely different spin on the single-seater category is the extremely rare and valuable McLaren M10B entered by Chris Knez. This legendary car, chassis number 17, was raced by 1969 Formula 5000 champion John McNicol in the early 1970s and is reputed to be the last original F5000 car, and the only original McLaren from this series, remaining in South Africa.

All three of these rapid single-seaters all compete in Class C3 for vehicles with five cylinders and above. Class C2 for four-cylinder cars includes three Formula VW cars powered by 2.0-litre engines, driven by Shane Helberg, Wayne Jardine and Garth de Villiers who finished third last year.

There’s sure to be plenty of interest in the sports car categories too, particularly in Class C6 which will see the debut of Alan Dike’s sleek 2003 Pillbeam MP91 LMP2 – a Le Mans Prototype-class car that uses a Judd F1-derived 3.4-litre V8 engine. He will compete alongside Knysna resident and Hillclimb regular Mike Verrier in the Nissan-powered Shelby CanAm, as well as Craig Harper in the Alfa V6-engined Harper Type 5 Turbo.

IOL Motoring