Brian Joss – Jaguar has called on three icons of South African motorsport to compete at this year’s Jaguar Simola Hillclimb in a trio of identical, high-performance SUVs.
The kicker is that the three drivers – Mike Briggs, Deon Joubert and Shaun Watson-Smith – who were well-known in the heyday of screaming, petrol-powered touring cars throughout the 1990s, will tackle the 1.9km Simola hill in near silent, all-electric Jaguar I-PACEs.
With well over 20 circuit racing championship titles between them, Briggs, Joubert and Watson-Smith can be considered South African racing tin-top racing royalty. The trio has competed at the front of various South African and international racing series including Group N, SA Touring Cars, British Touring Cars, Asian Touring Cars, Production Cars and V8 Modifieds among many others.
The three, who for more than a decade traded paint as either team-mates or fierce inter-team rivals, will once again face each other on track – this time at the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb in Knysna from 3 to 5 May. Driving identical Jaguar I-PACEs, race fans will witness a thrilling race within a race, with the winner claiming ultimate bragging rights.
Deon Joubert, three-time SA Champion and National Colours holder, said: “Jaguar’s invitation to race has brought some fond memories flooding back.
Mike is a good friend of mine but we were once bitter rivals. I’d love nothing more than to pull one over on him, and Shaun, in Knysna.”
Mike Briggs, nine-time champion, said: “Racing at the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb is such an exciting opportunity, and to do it in a powerful EV like the I-PACE will make all the more interesting. With such instantaneous torque delivery and all-wheel drive, I think this car will raise some eyebrows in May. We’re competing in a class for EVs and Hybrids, but I suspect it’ll outrun some seriously sporty petrol cars in the overall results.”
Shaun Watson-Smith, 10-time SA Champion and one of the most successful Production Car drivers ever, said: “Historically the three of us raced side-by-side, rubbing fenders and banging door handles, but this race is a different genre. In fact, the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb is the perfect setting for the I-PACE. We’ll race flat-out up the hill and then recoup some battery charge on the way back down. It’s an ideal location for this challenge.”
The I-PACEs to be raced by Briggs, Joubert and Watson-Smith will be in showroom standard condition. Fitted with 90kWh batteries capable of up to 470km range, the three electric vehicles will be able to complete the entire race weekend without need for recharging. All Jaguar I-PACEs comes standard with all-wheel drive, and with 294kW and 696Nm available are capable of launching from 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds.
First held in 2009, the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb celebrates its 10th anniversary this May. As always the racing will start on Friday (3 May) with the annual Classic Car Friday competition, followed by King of the Hill practice and qualifying sessions on Saturday, two more qualifying runs on Sunday morning and the coveted King of the Hill finale on Sunday afternoon.
Race fans who cannot be present in Knysna will have the choice of watching on two live stream platforms. Viewers can go to Jaguar South Africa’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JaguarSA during the event to watch practice, qualifying and class final runs as they happen.
Jaguar South Africa’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/JaguarSA1 will also stream nonstop from Friday morning to Sunday evening with a continuous loop of on track action when no live racing is taking place. The YouTube feed will also feature some video-on-demand highlights, separately to the main stream.
It’s also possible to follow the 2019 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb action on social media platforms before, during and after the event using the #JaguarSHC hashtag. For more information go to www.jaguarshc.co.za
CAPTION: Racing royalty: Shaun Watson-Smith and his all-electric Jaguar I-Pace. Picture: Motorpress