GT-R remains the most popular supercar at this prestigious event
Rosslyn, South Africa, 6 May 2017 – Nissan completely dominated on the first day of the 2017 Simola Hill Climb in Knysna, with GT-R models topping the roster for both standard and modified supercars by the time the sun set.
Top honours went to Wilhelm Baard, who piloted his 2014 R35 GT-R to the top of the hill in a blistering 40.326 seconds in the first of two qualifying rounds. This was only 0.178 seconds slower than the winning time in 2015 and only 0.002 slower than the fastest GT-R in 2016.
“We started the day cautiously and tested different engine map-settings on our four practice rounds,” says Baard. “We made changes for the suspension and turbo boost on various runs and we trust that our GT-R will be perfect by the time we compete for the King of the Hill title on Sunday afternoon.”
The changes to the suspension, power delivery and tyre set-up almost caught Baard off guard, as he found himself with rear-wheel drive only on one of the practice runs, which changed the car’s dynamics completely.
“Expecting the sure-footedness of the all-wheel drive GT-R and only having power on the rear wheels certainly wakes you up behind the steering wheel!” says Baard.
Baard is part of an elite international vehicle testing team for Nissan Global and he prepared his GT-R, nicknamed #Armageddon, with the GT-R Performance Team from BB Nissan in Pretoria. While he remains tight-lipped about the VR38 V6 engine’s total power output, he confirmed that it much more than 1 000 horsepower.
Second over the line in the B2 class for four-wheel drive supercars was Desmond Gutzeit in his R32 GT-R. Gutzeit is the 2015 King of the Hill champion and his famed GT-R delivers over 1 500 horsepower.
Gutzeit recorded a final Day 1 qualifying time of 41.030 seconds and he is expected to increase the R32’s power significantly during Sunday’s qualifying rounds.
While Baard, Gutzeit, Edrich Zwiers (42.961s first day qualifying time) and Quinsley Sale (42.907s) fought for the top spots on the time sheets, several other GT-Rs competed in Class A4 for Standard Production Vehicles.
In this class, Jaki Scheckter ended the day in the top spot with a qualifying time of 45.014s. Scheckter is a firm favourite to win the King of the Hill title for standard production cars in his MY17 GT-R Black Edition, after he won the inaugural Simola Supercar Shootout in 2016 in an older GT-R.
“I admire the new MY17 GT-R’s consistent performance,” says Scheckter. “Time after time the car launched off the line perfectly and we kept shaving time off.”
The Nissan GT-R remains the most popular track tool for competitors who want to win one of the two King of the Hill titles for production vehicles. Three GT-Rs competed in the Class A for production supercars and six GT-Rs took part in Class B for modified supercars.
“The engineering brilliance of the GT-R is clear in the range of performance figures of the nine competing GT-Rs. From the standard 530+ horsepower on the MY17 GT-R to the 1 500+ horsepower on Desmond Gutzeit’s R32 GT-R and a superb handling four-wheel drive chassis on all models, it comes as no surprise that the GT-R is the most complete racing package for Simola competitors,” says Xavier Gobille, Managing Director Sales, Marketing and Aftersales at Nissan South Africa and Sub-Sahara.
While Baard, Scheckter and Gutzeit headlined the time sheets, the crowds cheered equally loudly for the very special Liberty Walk GT-R of Jako Nel. Nel entered his wide-body custom built GT-R for the first time this year and he ended the day with a sub-50-second qualifying time.
“This GT-R is something special. Apart from its Liberty Walk conversion, it also has an Alpha 9 conversion kit from NxGen, turning the engine into a beast with over 1 000 horsepower under your right foot,” says Nel.
Qualifying for day 2 and the final King of the Hill race starts in earnest tomorrow morning at 9am and the final King of the Hill runs will start at 3.40pm.