Johannesburg Matric student Kelvin van der Linde and his German team mate Rene Rast (driving a Audi R8) scored their another top ten finish in as many races during round five of the ADAC GT Masters championship for GT3 sports cars at the Slovakia Ring circuit, Slovak Republic.
PROUDLY SA RACER: Kelvin van der Linde (left) and ADAC GT Masters team mate Rene Rast at the Slovakia Ring.Image: ADAC Motorsport
The 18-year-old driver, the reigning and youngest European Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup champion, is rated South Africa’s most promising prospect for international motor racing stardom.
Together with his experienced co-driver Rast, he led the GT Masters championship going into the second half of the 2014 season. This was due to six podium finishes from the first eight races and a win in the opening round at Oschersleben in Germany in April 2014, which saw Van der Linde make history by becoming the youngest GT Masters race winner yet.
Mixed fortunes in the two qualifying sessions on Friday (August 8) saw the duo earn themselves 13th place on the grid for Race 1 on Saturday (August 9) and sixth for Race 2 on Sunday (August 10).
Pole position for both races went to German duo Max Sandritter and Jens Klingman in their BMW Z4 GT3.
Sixth place during Saturday’s one-hour race around the 5.92km circuit, which is 36km from the capital city of Bratislava, was enough to see them retain their lead in the championship, although this was reduced to eight points.
Race winners were Claudia Hürtgen of Germany and Dominik Baumann of Austria in a BMW Z4 GT3.
'CONFIDENT OF BETTER PERFORMANCE'
Van der Linde said: "It was clear from practice and qualifying that the circuit layout and characteristics favoured us less than some of our rivals. It is fast and technical and one of the longest circuits in Europe with its 900m long and 20m wide main straight.
“Sixth place in race one from 13th place on the grid was a good result and we were confident of a better performance in race two from sixth on the grid.”
But it was not to be.
They only managed to claim 10th place after the second one-hour race on Sunday (August 10). The race was won by Andreas Wirth and Daniel Keilwitz of Germany in a Callaway Corvette with a fastest lap of the day at 2min02.331 sec and an average speed of 174.3km/h.
Van der Linde said: “It was a very tough race today (Sunday, Aug 10). The speed just wasn’t there for us and Rene got an unfortunate drive-through penalty for posting a personal best sector time under yellow, by only 0.0002sec, while lying fourth. This cost us a top five finish at least. We are now P3 in the championship and have some work to do for the last three rounds if we are to take the title.”
With three rounds and eight one-hour races remaining, the South African/German duo is third in the championship with 129 points, a single point behind second-placed Jaap van Lagen of Holland in a Porsche 911 GT3 and only five adrift of current leaders Hurtgen and Baumann of Austria in the BMW Z4.
Younger brother Sheldon van der Linde is currently following in his brother's footsteps after being the youngest racer to win a SA Engen VW Cup race earlier in 2014.
The next round of the championship is at the Nurburgring in Germany on August 30/31.