Tin-top trio set to electrify race fans as they dice at Jaguar Simola Hillclimb

Former touring car aces Mike Briggs, Deon Joubert and Shaun Watson-Smith will take on the 1.9km hill in all-electric Jaguar I-Pace SUVs

09 April 2019 - 16:14 By Motoring Reporter
Long-time rivals Shaun Watson-Smith, Mike Briggs and Deon Joubert will compete in the 10th annual Jaguar Simola Hillclimb in Knysna next month.
Long-time rivals Shaun Watson-Smith, Mike Briggs and Deon Joubert will compete in the 10th annual Jaguar Simola Hillclimb in Knysna next month.
Image: Supplied

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 three drivers – Mike Briggs, Deon Joubert and Shaun Watson-Smith – who were well-known in the heyday of loud petrol-powered racing cars throughout the 1990s, will tackle the 1.9km Simola hill in near-silent, all-electric Jaguar I-Pace SUVs.

With well over 20 circuit racing championship titles between them, Briggs, Joubert and Watson-Smith can be considered SA racing tin-top racing royalty. The trio has competed at the front of various local 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 teammates or fierce rivals, will once again face each other on track in Knysna from May 3-5.

Race fans will witness a thrilling race within a race, with the winner claiming ultimate bragging rights.

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 but we were once bitter rivals. I'd love nothing more than to pull one over on him and Shaun in Knysna!"

Nine-time champion Briggs said: "Racing at the hllclimb 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."

Watson-Smith, 10-time SA champion and one of the country's most successful production car drivers, said: "Historically, the three of us raced side-by-side, rubbing fenders and banging door handles, but this race is a different genre. 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 recharging. The vehicles have standard all-wheel drive and with 294kW and 696Nm available are capable of launching from 0 to 100km/h in just 4.8 seconds.

First held in 2009, the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb celebrates its tenth anniversary this May.

Race fans who can't make it to Knysna will have the choice of watching on Jaguar SA’s Facebook or Youtube pages.