21 October 2013
Kelvin van der Linde made South African motor racing history when he won the 2013 Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup Championship at the Hockenheimring circuit in Germany on Saturday.
The teenager from Johannesburg did it in convincing fashion by recording his fifth victory of the nine-round international series after starting from fifth on the grid.
It was a giant leap for the 17-year-old’s dream of making an international career in motor sport and he notched up several milestones in the process.
Volkswagen Cup champion
Van der Linde won the prestigious gas-powered one-make series in his rookie year after earning the drive by becoming the youngest person ever to win the the South African Volkswagen Cup in 2012.
He was the only driver to win more than one race during the year and is the youngest-ever winner of the German championship.
He is also the latest member of a distinguished motor racing family to have claimed an international championship. His uncle Etienne won the German and European Formula Opel championships in 1998, while his father, Shaun, and grandfather, Hennie, won multiple South African circuit racing championships.
With a 43-point advantage over his nearest rival, Kasper Jensen of Denmark, and a 40-point lead over fellow South African Jordan Pepper – the only other drivers who could have won the championship on the weekend – Van der Linde had only to finish 12th to secure the title.
Jensen was second after starting from fourth place and Matthias Bauerle of Germany, who started from pole position, was third. Pepper finished ninth after making up three places from his starting position of 12th.
Van der Linde showed great maturity during the hotly contested 11-lap (50- kilometre) race, which saw the top eight on the starting grid covered by less than a second. He avoided trouble as the field bunched up going into the first corner of the opening lap and was fourth by the end of it.
As the race progressed, he picked off the cars ahead of him, moving up to third on lap two, second on lap seven and, finally, into the lead on lap nine. At the chequered flag, he had opened up a gap of a second on Jensen and won going away.
‘I knew what I had to do’
“I knew what I had to do today and fortunately it all turned out alright,” Van der Linde said afterwards.
“I was careful at the start to avoid any contact with other cars and was aiming to just maintain my position and make whatever safe passes I could during the race. When I found myself in third, I thought I might as well try and win the race and I was able to do so without taking any big risks.
“This is a very important victory for me and will hopefully open up doors to my career. I am very grateful to Volkswagen for making it possible for me to compete in this important championship. And I am especially grateful to my family for their support and encouragement.”
FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
- Kelvin van der Linde (South Africa) 348
- Kasper Jensen (Denmark) 295
- Jordan Pepper (South Africa) 256
- Dennis Trebbing (USA) 225
- Michele Gatting (Denmark) 214
- Nicolai Madsen (Denmark) 210
- Manuel Fahnauer (Germany) 198
- Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky (Sweden) 185
- Ross Wylie (Great Britain) 175
- Victor Bouveng ((Sweden) 160