Spectacular finale at the fourth and final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC): At Laguna Seca/USA, Audi Sport customer racing turned a nine-point deficit into an 11-point advantage to secure the title in the manufacturers’ classification for the third consecutive time. This was thanks […]
The Audi Sport Team Absolute Racing celebrated a superb podium in the Suzuka 10 Hours this passed weekend. Audi Sport drivers Christopher Haase/Kelvin van der Linde/Markus Winkelhock brought their #6 Audi R8 LMS home in third place after the ten hour-long race. The 47th running […]
Audi Sport customer racing took third place on the podium in the overall classification in the 70th running of the Spa 24 Hours. The brothers Sheldon and Kelvin van der Linde finished third together with Jeffrey Schmidt.
A change to the performance categorization on race day left Audi with virtually no chance in the battle for race victory in the Ardennes. Many caution periods also caused significant changes in the classification.
With 13 brands on the grid, the anniversary edition of the Spa 24 Hours promised to be a classic. After four wins since 2011, Audi Sport customer racing aimed to clinch its fifth overall victory. “Unfortunately it just wasn’t quite enough this year,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “A couple of hours before the start we had to load 15 kilograms of ballast weight into all the cars. Although we were able to set a few quick lap times, we were unable to fight for victory over the distance. Then in the end two BMW won from two Audi and two Mercedes-AMG.”
When asked about his first Spa 24H podium, Kelvin van der Linde replied, “It has been a rollercoaster race once again in 2018. This race isn’t won until the last lap of the race. We showed great pace all race and both my team mates did a super job. Luck didnt always fall our way during the Full Course Yellow scenarios but despite that we never gave up and fought back to 3rd on the podium! I want to thank Montaplast by Land Motorsport for once again trusting in my services and also for allowing me and my brother to share a cockpit for the second big race of 2018, after the 24H of Nurburgring.”
In the 46th running of the Nürburgring 24 Hours, the Eifel region revealed itself at its worst: Audi Sport customer racing had traveled to the world’s biggest automobile race as title defenders, but together with its customer teams suffered some bitter setbacks in the battle […]
The start to the 2018 has been a successful one for Kelvin van der Linde. Having secured his first podium of the year at the Brazilian Stock Car race in Sao Paulo, Kelvin has enjoyed a good start to his Blancpain GT and GT Masters […]
After showing great form earlier this year at Daytona and Bathurst, Kelvin finally got his first podium finish for the 2018 season under his belt. The first round of the Brazilian Stock car Championship at Interlagos in Sao Paulo was a special one, featuring many […]
After many months of speculation which arose from their once off outing at Sachsenring last year, it is finally official that Kelvin and Sheldon will share a car in 2018! The two brothers from South Africa will share the #28 Audi R8 LMS by Land […]
“How do I become a professional racing driver like all my heroes that I watched on TV?” A question I asked myself for many years. This blog post is a brief story of how I achieved my dreams in Motorsport.
1. Dedication & Persistence.
After 2 years of nagging my Dad for a go-kart, I finally got my first Kart at the end of 2005 aged 8. In the beginning I was definitely not the fastest out there. We went through many race weekends where I struggled to crack the top 10 in the then very competitive GP Junior category. Looking back I laugh at it because those times really were what shaped me as a professional. We spent weekends on end practicing Saturdays AND Sundays until I was eventually consistently at the front. It put a lot of pressure on our family eventually because obviously there wasn’t that much time for life away from the race track, and for parents who both worked from 7:00 to 18:00, five days a week, I noticed it was becoming difficult to keep up. However, we kept the trend going all the way through my Karting career. I too sacrificed a lot of time with my school friends and never attended school activities on weekends, which led to me becoming a bit of an outcast, especially in my High School years when I was gradually becoming more and more involved with my racing. It never put me off because I was in such a focused space, all that social pressure didn’t phase me in the slightest, and looking back today, I wouldn’t have done it any differently even though there were times when it really was difficult to keep up.
2. A pinch of luck and grabbing opportunities.
I graduated from Karting in 2010 having won 2 South African National titles and was at a crossroad of what direction my career should take. Already at that time I had quite a realistic approach to Motorsport and despite my age, I knew quite a lot about the business. It was very clear to me that F1 wasn’t an option. Not because I didn’t believe I had the talent to pursue it, I was just realistic enough to go against the flow of people dreaming of F1. In the end that decision is what shaped my career. It was around the same time that Federal Mogul was looking for a young talent for their Polo Cup program to replace the graduating Gennaro Bonafede who was set to move to production cars. Ronnie Erasmus approached me in December of 2010 and I immediately signed. Ferodo funded both Polo Cup seasons and I was able to reward them with a Championship in 2012. A pure coincidence at the end of 2010 which led to a great opportunity and a relationship that still remains today with Federal Mogul.
3. Bank Loans and a lot of Balls.
At the end of 2012 I had achieved pretty much all there was to do for a Junior driver in South Africa. I had the option to receive funding again from Ferodo and to move into the premier category in SA Motorsport, however, I took a deep breath and together with my parents we decided to invest in a career abroad. I come from a stable family financially but nowhere near what is required to fund each step on the Motorsport ladder. My parents were able to help me pay for the first season in Scirocco R-Cup with some help from the bank. Ferodo had no marketing benefit overseas and therefore we had to make the investment entirely on our own, and managed to raise €10 000 through a local fundraiser on Facebook. At the time, Scirocco Cup was the best value for money race series. At €75 000 it was the cheapest touring car championship in Europe and it was staged on the same weekends as the DTM which was a great marketing opportunity for a young driver. I went on to win the title in my rookie season and was later invited to the Porsche Young Driver Shootout for a €200 000 scholarship in Carrera Cup Germany for the following Season.
4. Overcoming disappointment.
The Porsche Shootout did not go as well as planned. I had jumped from a 300hp Scirocco Cup car with ABS, into a 460hp Porsche 991 with no ABS or TC. It was a massive step and I still remember the first time I put my foot down out of the pits, I was totally shocked. The car was driving me and not the other way around. I was able to be fast by the end of the test but I was making a lot of mistakes and found myself in the gravel two times in two test days. Looking back I also just smile because it was a great experience for a 16 year old kid from South Africa, but it was not what was meant to be and that rejection shaped the success that was to come the following season.
5. A big break and some more good fortune.
As a result of winning the Scirocco R-Cup Championship, I received a package of €75 000 which would basically cover our initial investment. The next goal was GT3 racing. Already well connected in the VW Group, I decided to go to Audi and GT Masters. We had to re-invest my prize money from 2013 and Audi managed to cover the balance of the budget after a few months of negotiations. Surprisingly, the 2014 season alongside Rene Rast ran faultlessly and we won the GT Masters title in our first attempt. It was a seamless combination of team and drivers and a year I took a lot of knowledge from. 2014 was also the year where I managed to win the prestigious FIA Academy and was also voted SA Sportsman of the Year for the second year in succession. The stars had aligned and I was offered my first works contract at the end of 2014, two years sooner than I would have had the chance to get a works contract within the traditional Porsche Junior System.
6. Arriving is one thing, staying is another.
Arriving is one thing, staying is another, something my Dad often reminded me of. This was something I was about to learn for myself. The success of 2014 was followed by two extremely hard years at Audi. I was finding myself as a young man and was adapting to my new life living in Europe. Family relations were tense and results were rare. At the end of 2016, my GT Masters team had run out of financial backing halfway through the season and I was sidelined for 3 months with no race drive. I only had development duties for the new RS3 LMS and ended 2016 with a win at the Nordschleife on Debut for the new car.
7. Rebuilding and Succeeding.
After two years with almost no results, pressure was building from Audi to deliver. 2017 was a make or break season. I had been offered the chance to do 24H Nurburgring and Spa on one of the works cars. This was a great chance to compare myself to the rest of the Audi drivers in equal equipment. I started the year with a lot of self doubt, wondering if 2014 was really just luck? The season started very well with a few great races in GT Masters which put us in the hunt for the championship. However, the real challenge would be 24H Nurburgring. This was where it really mattered. It was a week that I will never forget. It ran faultlessly from beginning to end. I managed to win one of the crown jewels of sports car racing at my first attempt, with the privilege of bringing the car across the line in a dramatic final stint. I remember crossing the line that day and just feeling relief. Just pure relief. Of course I was happy to have won, but I was more happy to have proven to myself that I could still race against the best at the highest level. This was an important day for my self confidence. As confidence built, results came, and we finished the 2017 season with wins in GT Masters and at the 8H Of California. October 2017 also marked a great moment as me and my Brother Shared a GT3 car for the first time and achieved a podium on our first race together. Sheldon also went on to win Petit Le Mans later that month.
Its a great lesson to learn. Never give up and never stop believing in yourself. It is a lesson that has changed me as a man. And it is an experience that will keep me humbled for many years, because the fact is, no matter how successful one year can be, you are only as good as your last race. Lets hope 2018 is just as great.
Thanks for reading and Thanks for your support!
VALVOLINE Jamec Pem Racing has confirmed a second all-professional driving squad for the 2018 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, doubling their chances at outright victory this February 2-4. Supercars champion and triple Bathurst 1000 winner Garth Tander will be joined by factory Audi Sport stars Kelvin […]