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Simola Hill Climb 2024: The Great Adventure.

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4am and we’re on our way to Knysna, a massive 1200km +/- journey through the centre of South Africa. Oh yes, Jo’burg to this coastal town is certainly not a short excursion to complete in one day, but ‘we’ did it.

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Stuart Baker (motorcycle boss for Suzuki SA) and myself began the drive in their new van (not a Suzuki), for the first 300km, and then we had the pleasure of the last 900km or so in a new Suzuki Swift Sport, the one with the turbo, much better. It was covered in fancy racing graphics for the forthcoming event, as were two more.

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Eventually we arrived and in surprisingly good condition, regarding the buttock muscles, and we’d gone through 327 wine gums, one large sausage roll, and various chocolates, decorating the floor well with remnants of the above. 

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Anyway, that was over and the posh Knysna hotel was a welcome reward with a room fit for a King. However I wasn’t just here for fun and sweet consumption – I was here to ride the all-new Suzuki GSX-S 1000 GX up, and hopefully back down, the iconic 1.7km Simola Hill Climb racetrack. Now being an ex British Drag Race Champion this was right up my alley, or hill, to be more precise. 

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The new GX with its, first time for Suzuki, electronic Showa suspension, where you can adjust every setting by using the left side button on the ‘bars, is basically superb. We will bring you the full review in the very near future. My brief was to show off (I’m good at that), destroy the rear tyre for crowd excitement and entertainment (easy), and more importantly DO NOT damage the bike, as it’s currently the only one in SA. If so, Stuart said his fist would violently connect with my chin and nose – point taken. I therefore softened his concern with another large bag of wine gums.

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There was also a white Hayabusa with us as well, for Jaco Viviers to perform on in a similar manner; he’s the proud owner of Richard’s Bay Suzuki and Drag race Champion in SA. Corrie and Kyle, from Suzuki SA, were also in attendance and basically made the whole adventure fun, special, and most memorable (especially the orange cloth, eh guys)? Anyway sticky moments aside the team from Suzuki Auto and everyone else involved deserve a massive ‘big-up’ on all counts for such a memorable and rewarding time – I owe you ‘all’ a thousand beers, maybe?

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Knysna is one of the most exquisite places in SA, stuffed full of friendly inhabitants, great restaurants and bars, and of course the ocean. Two 200hp outboard Suzuki engines took us out into the ocean on some inflatable contraption, which widened the eyes to say the least, well worth a ride out if you’re there.  If you’ve never been to Knysna, or the surrounding area do so, at any time of the year. Makes one wonder why so many people go abroad for their holidays, what’s wrong with you?

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Only during lunchtime were we let loose on the 1.7km track to showcase the two Suzuki motorcycles. This road-derived track is easy to learn but difficult to master, and immense fun to attack. Meanwhile the three Swift Sports were cleaning up in their class in full competition mode, interestingly all three using the auto option for superior getaways, they said. So Jaco and myself sadly had no official times so to speak, and after three days we unfortunately destroyed the rear tyres, in a professional manner of course – sorry Stuart, you did say we could, would you care for a wine gum?

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One thing I can say is the new GX is a very good choice to attempt a ‘climb’, and a few wheelies too, just for fun. The electronic suspension is very easy to set to your liking, but for competitive reasons I cannot divulge my preferences, well maybe on the forthcoming review.

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When it all came to end I was quite sad to say the least. I made new friends, saw old ones, and was impressed how the event was run, one of the best things I’ve ever been too. Everything from classic cars to old F1 machines, 1,000hp+ brutes, to road going cars were all attacking the ‘hill’ trying for the best time. I believe the best time in some open-wheeled monster was around 36 seconds, with speeds close to 240km/h and above – amazing!

The Suzuki Auto Race Team also won their class, well actually dominated the top three, with a new record time in the process. A truly remarkable little car in the right hands and well worth a test-drive if you’re after a sporty, superb handling, and a surprisingly good touring car too.

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I, on the other hand would certainly love to be there again next year, I’ve already ordered the wine gums and orange cloths (aye Kyle?). I cannot recommend attending this race event more, which will be from the 1st to 4th May 2025 – so book your accommodation today, or why not enter your car? 

A huge thanks to www.suzukiauto.co.za. For taking care of us, also go there to book a highly recommended Swift Sport test drive at your local dealer.

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And of course all the guys from www.suzukimotorcycle.co.za for everything you’ve read about. Go there for more information on the new GSX-S 1000 GX, and the new GSX- 8R.

See you all in 2025…


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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