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SA's Van der Linde wins FIA Driver of Year

2014-07-21 08:10

RACING HARD: SA's teen racer, Kelvin van der Linde (left) poses with driving partner Rene Rast following their victory at the ADAC GT Masters in Austria. Image: ADAC Motorsport

PETER BURROUGHES

South African teen Kelvin van der Linde has won the Driver of the Year award for the 2014 International Automobile Federation’s (FIA) Young Driver Excellence Academy during a  ceremony at the Paul Ricard circuit in France on Friday (July 11).

Van der Linde (18-years-old) was presented with a trophy and certificate at the culmination of a seven-month programme that included five different workshops attended by ten young racing drivers from eight countries. Van der Linde was the official representative of the African continent.

BEATING THE ODDS

The Young Driver Excellence Academy is an initiative of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability and Van der Linde earned his place after an intensive selection process. Each FIA National Sporting Authority, including Motorsport South Africa, nominated a driver to attend the selection process. Five qualifiers were chosen and were joined by five wild card participants.

The Academy offers a fully funded training programme to help develop the participants’ motorsport careers. Drivers were coached by former Formula 1 driver Alex Wurz and former World Rally championship co-driver Robert Reid.

Van der Linde won the 2012 South African VW Cup and 2013 European VW Scirocco R-Cup, the youngest driver to have won either of these titles. He leads the 2014 ADAC GT Masters Championship for GT3 sports cars in Europe at the halfway stage in an Audi R8 with co-driver Rene Rast.

‘THE REAL WORK STARTS NOW’

Van der Linde said: "I'm really speechless right now – to come to the Academy as the African representative where, despite being a large continent, racing is still growing and to win this is amazing. I came here with an open mind ready to learn and gave it my best.

“It’s great to win and receive this trophy, but the real work starts now."

That work includes a return to the real world and catching up on his matric prelims at Dainfern College. He missed the first three exams because of last week’s final Academy workshop in France and will be working hard to catch up this week.

Van der Linde said: “While a motorsport career is what I have chosen for myself, I realise the value of completing my school education and intend to achieve as good a Matric result as I can."
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