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Blurb: Well-known local importer of JDM machinery makes an impressive debut at the 2024 Simola Hillclimb.

Rospa Imports is well-known for the desirable cars it imports, mainly from the Far East. The KZN-based outfit made its motorsport debut at the 2024 Simola Hillclimb, which took place in Knysna from 3-5 May. The team entered the event with an R34-series Nissan GT-R in V-Spec II trim. The car, which was imported by Rospa, is the daily driver of company owner Himal ‘Chris’ Paul.

Paul said: “We bring in these incredible cars for our clients and I am lucky to own my JDM dream-car as well. What better way to showcase the quality of cars we import by entering one in SA’s premier motorsport event to compete against some of the fastest cars in the country.”

The iconic performance machine competed in Class B10 for modified street cars. This new class was created for production, road-legal cars with modifications which essentially allows tuned/modified cars. This paved the way for renowned JDM tuner Steve Clark of No Sweat Racing to work his magic.

Clark built a special engine for the GT-R. He increased the displacement to 2,8-litres from the RB26DETT’s stock 2,6. He also added a pair of top-mount turbochargers. A Haltech ECU handles all the necessary fuelling and timing duties.

Said Clark of the build: “The twins (turbochargers) work very well and make the car extremely driveable. We are making between 800 and 850 horsepower (between 600 and 630 kW), which is enough power for the tyres this car has.”

One of the real tricks of the car is the Holinger six-speed sequential transmission. The motorcycle-style shift pattern allows the driver to bang through the gears without fear of wrong-slotting, ie selecting the wrong gate. The system also allows shifts at wide-open throttle. This shaves off vital tenths of a second over a course as short as the Simola Hillclimb.

Not only did Clark build the powerplant, but he ditched the engine-builder alter ego to assume the role as Superm… driver for the team. He is a regular competitor in circuit racing events, but 2024 was his first visit to SA’s most famous hill. Not that anyone would have known.

The expert wheelman wrestled the large coupe up the 1,9-km course like a returning champ. His times tumbled with each successive run. His quickest qualifying time was enough for him to make the class finals. He went on to clinch the B10 victory with an impressive time of 43,544 seconds.

That time was quick enough to earn the team a spot in the modified saloon car top-ten shootout, for all tin-top cars from all classes. Clark went up against some fearsome machinery, including pukka race and time-attack machines.

In the final run of the day Clark blasted away from the line in a hail of bangs and pops produced by the launch control system. He threw everything at the hill, often sideways, and crossed the line in blistering 42,829 sec. That gave the team seventh overall among the highly modified machines that competed in the final shootout.

Clark said after the run: “At first the all-wheel-drive control wasn’t working properly and the car was trying to kill me at every opportunity. But we made some technical and suspension changes to improve the situation. By the end of qualifying the car was great to drive, although it has potential to go quicker with a few more changes.”

Issued by Double Apex on behalf of Rospa Imports South Africa.

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