The Knysna Hillclimb
The road to Knysna started with an assembly of drivers and support crew at the Rock Raceway on Thursday the 17th at 3am. From start to finish the team all pulled together from loading the cars to driving down to Knysna in their very first outing in official competition in South Africa. The first time racers could not hide their anticipation on the road to their first race event. Spirits were kept at an all-time high by the perennial prankster Gugu Zulu and team boss Kevin’s wit. Legends HR officer Jacqui Laffite joined the party on the eve of the practise runs and immediately brought her unique spark and fun attitude to the, now tense with anticipation, Legends team.
The Hillclimb is essentially run on a municipal road closed to the public for a week during the Knysna Festival of Speed. The road to the Simola Country Club and Spa is the track for the Hillclimb and in 2012 the Spectators got to see the Legends Racing SA team in action for the first time ever in a MSA sanctioned event.
Kevin Hepburn brought 5 1934 styled Ford Legend Race Cars to Knysna to be driven by well-known drivers like Gugu Zulu, rally driver extraordinaire, Fabienne Lanz, international karting champion, and two rookie drivers from the Legends Academy, Shaun Nel and Morne Stoltz. The 5th car was driven by Kevin himself. Kevin is the son of South African racing legend, Willie Hepburn.
The attention the cars received on Friday during the street parade should’ve have prepared us for the public reception during Saturday’s first practise and qualifying sessions but in the end we were overwhelmed by the support from the crowds, organisers and fellow competitors who all stopped by to have a closer look at this new low cost racing formula.
Gugu Zulu, who has driven all sorts of race cars from Rally to NASCAR said the following:
“Of all the different types of vehicles I have driven, Legends are right up there with the greatest. The car was super quick, it sounds so right when you plant your foot and the handling is incredible”.
Gugu did manage to go off the side of the hill in one (watch the video here) of the practise runs when he entered the second blind left with a slightly wide line and chose to miss the tyre wall which in hindsight may have ended his weekends racing. Gugu returned to the event after an inspection in the pit area to claim top qualifying spot in class B4, almost a full second ahead of a Lamborghini Gallardo.
Fabienne Lanz who was the only female competitor in the Hillclimb qualified in 3rd behind Kevin Hepburn who later withdrew his car. Kevin’s withdrawal made way for Academy driver Shaun Nel to participate in Sundays finals where he took 3rd place in the class. Fabienne Lanz who does not regularly race cars found more confidence in the Legend as the event progressed, and eventually placed 2nd in the Class with a 52 second “lap”, representing an average speed in excess of 130km/h up the 1.9 km hill. Fabienne was delighted with the experience and thanked all for the “fantastic new experience and working with such a great team ”.
Shaun Nel, possibly a surprise finalist, held his head up high with a superb 53 second climb, showing that this Rookie driver has a bright future in his very first event ever. Morne Stotlz was equally impressive as he has the least experienced of all the drivers but was able to lower his times from 57’s to low 53’s over the 8 runs. We are very proud of the achievements of Legends Racing at the Knysna Hillclimb and are planning a return for 2013.
Legends will be in action at Zwartkops Raceway, Pretoria on June 16 2012, see you there!