SA RACING FAMILY: Sheldon van der Linde, the youngest member of a proud SA racing family, is the youngest Engen VW Cup race winner yet and he continues to impress. Image: David Ledbitter
JOHANNESBURG - The Van der Linde family in Gauteng has established many South African motor racing records over the past 30 years and continues to do so and brothers Kelvin and Sheldon continue to dominate in motorsport.
Sheldon, became the youngest driver to have won an Engen Volkswagen Cup national championship motor race at the age of 14-years-old.
The unassuming Dainfern teenager, who is in Grade 9 at Dainfern College north of Johannesburg, notched up this achievement in a VW Polo at Port Elizabeth’s Aldo Scribante circuit on May 3, ten days before his 15th birthday in only his sixth race in Round 3 of the Volkswagen Cup.
On March 3 2012, older brother Kelvin, then 15-years-old, claimed the same record when he won his first VW Cup race, also in a Polo, in his second year in the championship, which he went on to win to become the youngest VW Cup champion yet.
On August 2, he won his second race in Round 5 of the championship at Phakisa Freeway in the Free State and is now lying second, five points behind 20-year-old team mate Daniel Rowe of Port Elizabeth.
Following in the footsteps of his brother – the 2013 international VW Scirocco R-Cup champion and currently leading the international ADAC GT Masters Championship for GT3 sports cars in an Audi R8 – Sheldon’s goal is to win the South African VW Cup championship and graduate to international competition.
SENIOR CIRCUIT DEBUT
Van der Linde said: "It’s been an awesome first year in senior circuit racing so far. I have worked hard to achieve this and received a lot of help from my family to help me achieve my motor racing dreams.
"We spent the whole of 2013 preparing for my senior circuit racing debut and covered many hundreds of kilometres on different circuits testing and learning to drive a racing VW Polo. My uncle Etienne has been particularly helpful with teaching me racecraft."
Like his brother – and many other racing drivers before them who became world champions – Sheldon started his motor racing career at a very young age in karting.
HEADED FOR ZWARTKOPS
He was seven years old when he competed in his first race, in the Northern Regions karting championship. He graduated through GP Junior, Mini Max, Junior ROK Northern Regions and national championships, winning two regional and two national titles: GP Junior in 2008 and Mini Max in 2010. He received his junior Protea colours for motorsport in 2011.
His next race is the sixth round of the 2014 Volkswagen Cup championship at Zwartkops Freeway on August 30.