Scribante secures seventh Classic Conqueror crown at 2024 Simola Hillclimb
Photo by Rob Till

Franco Scribante wrote his name in the Simola Hillclimb record books once again by securing his seventh Classic Conqueror title at this year’s extremely competitive Classic Car Friday on 3 May 2024.

The intense battle between Scribante, who last won the title in 2021, and reigning champion Andre Bezuidenhout proved as thrilling as the thousands of attending fans expected. However, it was Scribante who held the advantage in each of the practice and qualifying sessions throughout the day in his rapid 1970 Chevron B19, and he repeated the feat in the Class Finals when he edged out his rival by 0.328 sec with a time of 41.796 seconds to claim the class H9 win.

In the final all-or-nothing Top 10 Shootout, Bezuidenhout’s challenge faltered when the Lola’s gearbox got stuck in third gear coming out of Turn 3, and he was relegated to sixth place overall. In scorching hot conditions, Scribante’s car bogged down slightly as he launched the Chevron off the start line for the crucial last dash, but he gave it absolutely everything on the remainder of the tight and twisty 1.9km Simola Hill course. He recovered to cross the timing beam in 41.937 seconds (at an average speed of 163.1 km/h) to earn a hard-fought Classic Conqueror victory.

“After two challenging years we’re back and I’m very happy to take the win,” Scribante said. “Our game plan for today was to take the fight to our rivals from the first run and that’s what we did by leading every session. It all came together in the end and it’s a fantastic result.”

Charles Arton, the 2015 winner, enjoyed his trip back to the podium with second overall in the Top 10 Shootout with his 1979 March 79A, having set his best time of the day at 43.586 seconds. He also earned third place in class H9, behind Scribante and Bezuidenhout.

Rui Campos made history too by powering his 1974 Porsche 911 RSR to third place in the final shootout with a time of 46.730 seconds – making it the first-ever tin-top car to claim a spot on the Classic Conqueror podium. Campos was rewarded with the class H8 victory too.

James Temple finished fourth in the Top 10 in the roaring 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe and took the class H6 win, with Robert Wolk ending fifth overall in the 1979 Van Diemen RF Formula Ford. With Bezuidenhout having to settle for sixth place as he limped the car across the line, Anthony Rix ended seventh (50.586 sec) in the 1969 Lola T70 Mk3B, while Craig Wessels rounded out the results with a time of 51.179 seconds in his 1983 Porsche 911 RSR IROC.

In the other class results, Rob Prece won H7 in his 1980 Volkswagen Golf (51.170 sec), with H5 going to Ian Kilburn in the 1972 Datsun GX Coupe (53.856 sec) and Porsche specialist Gavin Rooke taking the H4 class win in his 1973 911 (52.204 sec).

While Andre Bezuidenhout endured a difficult 2024 Simola Hillclimb – including the withdrawal of his unbeaten Gould GR55 from King of the Hill due to engine failure during pre-event testing – the family name was held high by his son, Jandre. Driving his dad’s first race car, the 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo Cup, Jandre comfortably took the class H3 win with a time of 52.925 seconds.

In class H1 for the ‘golden oldies’, which is contested on a handicap basis, Callum Price emerged victorious in his 1946 Austin Special, after finishing closest to his target time (101.35%). He narrowly beat Gero Lilleike in the 1931 Ford Model A who ended on 101.83%.

Spirit of Dave Charlton Award

Each year the special ‘Spirit of Dave Charlton’ award is given to the person that reflects South African race legend Dave Charlton’s spirit of impeccable attention to detail, meticulous preparation and commendable performance.

For the 2024 Simola Hillclimb, the award went to Farouk Dangor, the owner of Speedy Car Sales and a former competitor in the South African Touring Car and Production Car championships. Dangor’s passion for racing is embodied in the Speedy Car Sales motorsport museum which features many of the cars that he raced over the years, as well as a host of racing memorabilia.