Suzuki conquers the Simola Hill

“We had hopes that we could beat our 2023 times, but we didn’t expect it to be by such a large margin,” says Chelsy Pinto, Assistant Manager: Product Planning and Sales Development and Suzuki Race Team Manager.

For Falkiner it was the first time behind the wheel of the front-wheel drive Swift Sport at Simola, while Staniforth competed in his first-ever Hill Climb. Greybe again took on the role as the veteran Suzuki racer, having shepherded two groups of journalist-racers in previous Hill Climbs.

“All three drivers set times that were faster than the fastest times in previous years and both Thomas (Falkiner) and Wes (Greybe) broke through the 54 second barrier. In the end, Thomas set an all-time record time in a Suzuki Swift of 53.551 seconds.

”Suzuki’s 2023 Simola Hill Climb campaign was unique in several ways. For one, the brand decided to enter three identical cars: new model-year Swift Sport hot hatches with six-speed automatic transmissions.

In previous years, the brand entered a mix of models with manual and automatic transmissions to show how close the two were to each other and to prove that both delivered the same rewarding driver experience.

“All three drivers have racing experience, so we decided to put them in matching cars to level the playing field. The results were even better than expected, with good old rivalry pushing all three drivers beyond the times we set in previous years,” says Pinto.

As Pinto notes, the drivers bettered their times in almost every run. They also raced in every single run, including the practice and warm-up runs. Ditto the Suzuki racers in previous years, making it a combined 288 runs up the Simola Hill in three years without any mechanical issues or bad starts.

“It was such a jol. You cannot have so much fun for this amount of money anywhere else!” says Staniforth, who improved his time from the first to the last run by over two seconds.

Falkiner agreed: “I’ve been coming to the Hill Climb since 2010, and I’ve always been the bridesmaid and never the bride. It is such a rewarding feeling to be able to win the class and set a new all-time record for Suzuki. I enjoyed every second of it. The rivalry has been great. It is going to be one to remember for years to come.”

“This was probably the best year on the Hill yet! I did not mind coming second to a talent like Thomas (Falkiner). It was nice to have such a close race,” says Greybe.

Aside from Suzuki entering three identical cars, this was also the first year that the campaign attracted a private entry, that of Giles Missing who drove his 5-year-old Suzuki Swift Sport to the event and competed alongside the three factory entries from Suzuki.

“I saw the Suzuki guys enjoying themselves so much in previous years, so I decided to enter my own Swift Sport this year,” says Missing.

Suzuki Auto South Africa entered the Simola Hill Climb in 2022 for the first time to show that you could have fun and be competitive without breaking the bank. They also used the platform to launch new motorcycles in front of the speed-mad crowd. This included the third-generation Suzuki Hayabusa and, this year, the cutting-edge Suzuki GSX-S1000 GX Sport Crossover.
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