Sheldon becomes first SA driver in DTM
Teenager holds Van der Linde name high, while SA-built Hilux finally wins Dakar
BMW Motorsports has announced that 19-year-old South African Sheldon van der Linde will join its 2019 DTM driver’s line-up.
Van der Linde will thus become the first SA driver to race in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) or German Touring Car Masters, a series contested by the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz that is held at European tracks such as the Hockenheimring in Italy, Nurburgring in Germany and Brands Hatch in the UK.
Although they resemble their road-going versions, DTM cars feature purpose-built carbon-fibre tubs, larger brakes and enormous aero kits. They are powered by two-litre four-cylinder turbo engines that produce about 462kW and can reach top speeds in excess of 300km/h.
The Johannesburg-born racer follows a blue-blooded family of renowned wheelsmen such as elder brother Kelvin (Adac GT Masters Championship), Grandfather Hennie van der Linde (touring cars 1972-1986), father Shaun van der Linde (production/touring cars 1992-2004) and uncle Etienne van der Linde (production/touring cars 1995–2008). Having conquered the world of karting and the local Volkswagen Polo Cup, Sheldon moved to Europe to where he has competed in Adac TCR Germany, GT3 racing, the Imsa WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and the Blancpain series.
“It is great to have another talented youngster in our team,” said BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt. “Sheldon made a fantastic impression at the wheel of the BMW M4 DTM at the Young Driver Test in mid-December. Sheldon’s speed and versatility make him the perfect addition to our BMW M Motorsport programme.”
Said Sheldon: “My dad has been driving for BMW in South Africa for many years as a works driver as well. That is a very cool connection. It feels fantastic to continue the family tradition in that way and I’m very excited to keep the name ‘Van der Linde’ high in the BMW family.”
SA-built bakkie wins Dakar
History was made in Dakar last week when Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel emerged overall winners. Their South African-built Toyota Hilux crossed the finish line after 5,000 gruelling kilometres, giving Toyota its first win of the event dubbed the “toughest motorsport race in the world”.
It was also the first petrol-powered car to win the Dakar in the South American era.
SA motorsport fans looked forward to a dream result when local driver Giniel de Villiers led the event after stage 2 in the Hilux he shared with German navigator Dirk Von Zitzewitz. However, disaster struck when De Villiers hit a rock, cracking the sump of the Hilux and causing an oil leak that lost them several hours, in the process surrendering the lead back to Qatar’s Al Attiyah.
The historic victory was the icing on the cake for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s team manager Glyn Hall, a veteran campaigner of the Dakar. His contribution to SA motorsport not only includes the grooming of Dakar legends De Villiers, Duncan Vos and Leeroy Poulter but his company Hallspeed built the trio of Toyota Hilux bakkies competing in the event.
De Villiers eventually recovered to ninth overall while the third Hilux, driven by Dutchman Bernard Ten Brinke, retired with mechanical failure on stage 8.
“Winning the Dakar is never easy — there are a lot of people trying,” said Hall, on his and Toyota Gazoo SA’s first win after eight consecutive Dakar attempts.
“This year’s race was no exception, and brought a rollercoaster of emotions and results for the team. This is the one spot we needed. And it feels amazing to finally win.”
Toyota Gazoo racing SA Dakar record:
2012 3rd (G de Villiers)
2013 2nd (G de Villiers)
2014 4th (G de Villiers)
2015 2nd (G de Villiers)
2016 3rd (G de Villiers)
2017 5th (G de Villiers)
Schumacher Jnr follows his dad to Ferrari
Michael Schumacher’s son, Mick, has followed in his father’s footsteps by signing a contract with Ferrari to join the Formula One team’s young driver academy.
The 19-year-old German, whose father won five of his record seven championships with the Italian team, will be competing in Formula Two this year after winning the European F3 title in 2018.
Ferrari said that the youngster will join other members of the academy in pre-season preparation activities next week, including Giuliano Alesi, whose father, Jean, was also a Ferrari F1 driver and Brazilian Enzo Fittipaldi, 17, whose is the grandson of two-times world champion Emerson Fittipaldi.
“I am thrilled that Ferrari has entered a partnership with me, and my next future in motorsport will be in red,” said Schumacher.
“It is more than obvious that Ferrari has a big place in my heart since I was born and also in the hearts of our family, so I am delighted on a personal level about this opportunity as well,” added the German.
“He is an exciting young man, he has all the right values, he looks like his father, he drives very well, he’s intelligent and very well educated, someone who is a pleasure to have a discussion with,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said.
“For someone like me who has known him from birth, there’s no doubt that welcoming Mick into Ferrari has a special emotional meaning. But we have chosen him for his talent and the human and professional qualities that have already distinguished him despite his young age,” said new Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto.
VW targets Nurburgring EV record
Volkswagen is plotting to post an electric-vehicle lap record at the famous 20.8km Nordschleife of Germany’s Nurburgring using a slightly revised version of the ID R car that shattered the Pikes Peak hillclimb record in 2018.
“After the record on Pikes Peak, the fastest time for electric cars on the Nürburgring Nordschleife is the next big challenge for the ID R,” Volkswagen Motorsport director Sven Smeets announced.
The company isn’t confident it can take on the outright 5min:19.55sec lap record set by sister brand Porsche’s 369km/h Le Mans-winning hybrid 919 Evo at the same venue. Instead, VW aims its gunsights at the EV ’Ring record posted by Chinese company and Formula E competitor Nio, whose EP9 scorched the track in 6min:45.9 secs in 2017.