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With the rand going to pot, local has never been so lekker. Most of us South Africans are blithely unaware how spectacular our country is and only with a little adventuring, does ignorance turn to pleasant surprise.

Winter is an interesting time, we hibernate and inevitably do less. This isn’t good for economics: If a slower economy is what stimulates business and marketing cells within our grey matter, I'm all for it.  

Why? Festivals and events, that’s why. They seem to blossom like plants to the first signs of spring rains during winter, in the hope of getting you out of bed and spending your money. If you have a penchant for speed or social calendar events Durban hosts the Durban July, Cape Town the J&B Met and since 2008 Knysna has presented the Simola Hillclimb.

This motor sport spectacular bases its origins in the 19th Century, from the French Town of Chanteloup, where racing of cars up a winding hill began. Unlike a conventional racing circuit with a beginning and ending via a looped or circular lap, hillclimbs begin at the lower part of the hill and end somewhere near the top of it. 

Jaguar South Africa signed a three year sponsorship deal with the event’s organiser Ian Shrosbee, and 2014 is Jaguar’s first year as headline sponsor, which seems to have impacted the event in many a positive way. The number of tickets sold from the weekend event has doubled over the last event held in 2012 to 7 500.  The event didn’t happen last year unfortunately as the previous sponsor pulled out at the last minute.

The racing festival takes place in Knysna within the picturesque Simola Hills. With 360 degree views over the Knysna Heads, the Garden Routes’ Wilderness and the Jack Nicklaus designed golf course at the Simola Hotel and Spa.

The three days racing festival began last week Friday the 16th May. The first day is dedicated to the golden oldies or classic cars. With Jaguar being the sponsor of the event, the racers’ tent was dominated by the brand’s prowling cats. Like a Smartie box filled with iconic C, D and E-Types and MkII sedan Jaguars. While the legends come out to play on the Friday, current day super cars like Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s and modified racing go-karts rule the hill on the Saturday. The starting line is encased in the sounds and sights of smoke, cameras and roaring engines. It’s a parade, hearts beating and adrenaline pumping as each car darted off the starting block with the smell of burning rubber. The 2km sprint up the snaking Simola Hill takes less than one minute to race the climb, with speeds ranging from 140km/h for the older cars up to 200km/h plus for the super cars. Spectators along the fences or those lucky enough to experience the luxury Monaco grandstand are all eyes, fixed as they see the car approaching. It’s a fleeting moment of excitement as it passes with the roar of its engine lingering a moment longer before the next car races by. Sunday is a line-up of the best of Saturday’s competitors. This year’s final ten racers all nervously battled the hill for the coveted title as the ‘King of the Hill’. This year’s winner, Scribante, blazed up the hill in a time of 41.159 seconds.

Socially it’s a fantastic affair. Champaign flows while excitement is in the air. With Jaguar’s involvement, the co-ordination of the event is sublime. Jaguar’s three year partnership in this event means a guaranteed event not to be missed and sure to be the next must event to go to.

An event highlight and testament to their racing bloodline, Jaguar used the event to launch their latest thoroughbred, the F-TYPE Coupe’. Subjectively it is even more beautiful than it convertible sibling. The Coupe’ is priced lower than the convertible and available in a Jaguar dealer from June.



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