ONE of South Africa’s hottest motorsport properties, at only 17, Kelvin van der Linde will take his career to the next level with a full-time drive in a major German series this year.
He will again alternate school clothes with racing overalls after having convincingly won the international Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup Championship in Europe last year. This year he moves on as a member of the Prosperia C Abt Racing team, winners of last year’s team title and headed by former ADAC GT Masters champion and former German touring car championship driver Christian Abt.
Van der Linde will contest all eight rounds of the series, which features four- hour races at famous circuits like Zandvoort in Holland and the Nurburgring and the Hockenheimring in Germany.
He will share driving duties with top young Danish Porsche Cup and GT Masters driver, Nikki Thiim, 24, in an Audi R8 LMS Ultra.
Competition will include Porsche 911 GT3s, BMW Z4 GT3s, Chev Camaro GTs, Chev Corvette GT3s, Ford GT3s, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3s, and Nissan GT-R GT3s.
The opening round takes place over three days at Oschersleben in Germany from April 25 to 27.
Each round consists of Friday practice and qualifying with a race on each of Saturday and Sunday.
“I am pleased that it keeps me in the Volkswagen family,” the teenager said. “It will be another steep learning curve for me after last year’s Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup baptism of fire.”
He will have a busy year juggling his Grade 12 studies at college in Johannesburg, the FIA young driver programme and the eight rounds of the ADAC GT Masters championship.
“I’m living my dream to become a successful professional racing driver, but I also realise the value of a good education. It’s not easy, but then nothing that is worthwhile is easy.
“You have to put in the hard work and be totally dedicated. I feel very privileged to have all these opportunities and I intend to make the most of them.”
Van der Linde already has eight years of national and a year of international competition under his belt.
He started at the age of nine in karting and won the first of his two national championships at 12.
In 2011, at the age of 15, he competed for the first time in senior circuit racing and became the youngest- ever class and overall winner of the regional Goldwagen Challenge for production Volkswagens. That same year he finished third in the Volkswagen Cup nationals and was named rookie of the year.
He was already a rising star at the end of 2012 after convincingly winning the Volkswagen Cup one-make series for young Polo racers at the age of 16. He also succeeded his uncle, Etienne, as the youngest-ever winner of a senior circuit racing national championship.
He put himself firmly in the international spotlight with his convincing overall victory in last year’s Scirocco R-Cup.
Last year he also won selection as Africa’s representative at the FIA young driver academy.