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The Knysna Speed Festival History

The Knysna Speed Festival story began in 2009 with the first running of the Simola Hillclimb. From humble beginnings the event exploded in 2010 and, although it is a relatively new fixture on the South African motorsport calendar, it has already positioned itself as arguably the premier event on the South African motorsport scene.

With the Renault Simola Hillclimb well established after two years, the organisers began developing the second phase of the Knysna Speed Festival in 2011 by adding the Knysna Kart Grand Prix, Knysna Motor Show, Knysna Slot Car Challenge, Knysna Soap Box Derby and the Knysna Speed Festival Golf Day to the programme.

While the Renault Simola Hillclimb will always remain the core event, the Knysna Speed Festival is now far more than just a single motorsport race. The festival is the first multiple-event motorsport and motoring gathering of its kind ever to be organised in South Africa and while there is still a way to go to make it an essential annual fixture for fans and competitors, the concept has already been widely accepted by competitors and public alike. In time to come we trust it will become the South African version of the Daytona Speed Week held annually in the USA and the Goodwood Festival and Revival in the UK.

For 2012 we have tweaked the Hillclimb by expanding to three days and offering the Vintage, Classic and Historic motoring fraternity their own day of action on the Hill. Classic Car Friday will exclusively feature pre-1974 vehicles and competitors and spectators are encouraged to attend in period dress.

NMMU Racing at the Knysna Speed Festival

NMMU Racing competed in the 2012 Renault Simola Hillclimb Race in Knysna from 18 to 20 May 2012, and managed to pull-off a third place in Class C4, for open-wheeled, naturally aspirated race cars! 

Shortly after DibaOne had been built, NMMU Racing entered the 2010 Knysna Hillclimb, but decided to return to the event to fully test the capabilities of the vehicle at this year’s Speed Festival. Surrounded by Mclarens, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis, DibaOne ran solidly through practice and qualifying events on Saturday, to end up in the top-three shoot-out for its class on Sunday. During the event, our drivers, Vishek Mohanlal and Richard Chambers managed to improve their times by more than five seconds, finishing the 1.9km hill at an average speed of 106km/h.

Gugu Zulu also took time to wish our team well, and pose for a photograph. The team has appreciated the support and positive role model he has provided over the past year.

DibaOne competed in the Formula Student Germany competition in August 2011, becoming one of the most successful first-time entrants to the competition, while also taking the accolade of the first South-African Formula Student team to build and compete internationally with their car. The past nine months has been used to further test and tune DibaOne, while designing and building our second vehicle, DibaTwo. The result was a far superior performing DibaOne, both in terms of dynamics, and reliability.

Some of the improvements made to DibaOne include:

  • Electro-pneumatic gearshift powered by CO2 gas
  • Improved engine ECU calibration
  • Suspension and tyre sensors to monitor and optimise vehicle handling
  • GPS sensor for speed, location and lap times

We are very pleased to see the growth and experience the team displayed at the event, and look forward to seeing DibaTwo take shape, take to the track, and beat our time next year!  We also hope to see more universities taking up the “Formula Student” challenge to make the event even more interesting in the future.

Congratulations to the NMMU Racing team on once again leading the way!