Nissan is the undisputed King of the Hill
Rosslyn, South Africa, (7 May 2017)
Baard was a firm favourite to win the 2017 Simola Hill Climb, especially after he recorded a final qualifying time of 40.099 seconds. This was faster than any winning GT-R of previous years and faster than the time with which he won the race in a GT-R in 2011.
"Towards the end of the day our set-up was optimal and we had a fairly new set of tyres that we could fit. I knew that if I ran a clean race up the hill we could shatter that 40-second barrier," says Baard, who added that the speeds on the final run "scared" him.
Coming a close second was Desmond Gutzeit with his very powerful R32 GT-R. Gutzeit recorded the fastest time in the B2 class shootout for modified saloon cars with four-wheel drive and forced induction.
Each racing class competes against the other for the class win, before the 10 fastest cars across all the classes compete for the King of the Hill (KOTH) title. This year there were separate KOTH races for the standard production supercars and modified supercars.
For the class win, Gutzeit raced up the hill in 40.312 seconds, while Baard completed it in 40.502 seconds. In the King of the Hill shootout, Gutzeit recorded a time of 40.114 seconds, the fastest time for him on the day and fast enough for the second spot on the modified supercar podium.
In the class for standard production supercars, Roets completed the shootout on Sunday with a time of 44.766 seconds. This time beat various other supercars and his fellow Nissan GT-R racer, Jaki Scheckter, to the top step of the podium. Scheckter ended the day with a shootout-time of 45.171 seconds on the 1.9km hill climb, which earned him the third position.
For Roets the win was particularly sweet after he damaged his GT-R on day one and had to work past midnight to get his car race ready.
"We managed to find replacement control arms for a GT-R in Port Elizabeth and the team drove through to pick them up. The car was back on its wheels just after midnight and we set the wheel alignment this morning at 5am," says Roets.
Apart from the rear suspension parts, which Roets damaged by running wide of the road on an earlier qualifying round, his GT-R performed without fault.
"With every launch, we managed to gain some time and towards the end of the day we were leading the supercar class. Our King of the Hill title certainly makes the sacrifices worthwhile. I pushed so hard at the start of the final KOTH shootout that I spun all four wheels, but a second later I managed to regain my composure and finish the run," says Roets.
For Nissan South Africa, the two 2017 King of the Hill titles are another highlight in a busy year during which the company launched the MY17 GT-R.
"The MY17 model is the most advanced and powerful GT-R yet. With over 400kW in standard guise, an upgraded suspension system and a 0-100km/h time of less than three seconds, it is no surprise that the GT-R is one of South Africa's most popular supercars," says Xavier Gobille, Director for Sales, Marketing and Aftersales at Nissan Group of Africa.