The 2011 Renault Knysna Hillclimb, attracting cars of yesteryear and the present, was held for the third time in the scenic surrounds of the Knysna forests and saw almost 6,000 spectators gather to support.
The main event was restricted to 80 entrants to balance entrant numbers with time allowance and the safety of both participants and spectators.
Cars on show were the Ariel Atom, a Lotus 7 replica, Toyota’s Aygo Crazy, an Alfa Romeo 156 GTA, Renault Sport R26 Megane, RS250 Megane and the Clio Gordini and an Audi R8. However, Nissan was easily the strongest represented in the field of competitors, with a total of 15 Nissan vehicles, including a heavily modified 200SX and a great variety of R32, R33 and R34 Skyline GT-Rs, and four R35 GT-Rs which proved to be the cars to beat for ultimate glory over the course of the Hillclimb weekend.
Wilhelm Baard of Global Nissan won the overall event in his bright-green R35 GT-R, where he blitzed the 2km course in an incredible 42.444 seconds, representing an average speed of 161.152 km/h from a standing start and over a tight and fairly twisty route. Defending champion and motorsport legend Geoff Mortimer tried to close the 0.7-second gap between his time and Baard’s in his extensively modified Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, but third place was the best his stellar performance could manage; the result was enough for Mortimer to claim a class win for the A1 category.
Jade Gudzeit, also in a GT-R, and with a time of 42.659 seconds, secured himself the victory in the B2 class and in the process beat his own father’s best time (in yet another GT-R) by almost a second.
The 2011 Renault Knysna Hillclimb will be remembered as the year of the Nissan GT-R, as this astounding supercar definitively demonstrated its leading performance in a genuinely home-grown motorsport event securing the top positions in classes A2 and B2.