Sheldon van der Linde, the youngest of the famous racing Van der Linde family of Gauteng, recorded his first overall win in the Northern Regions Junior Rok karting championship with an impressive all-round performance at Zwartkops Raceway west of Pretoria on Saturday.
The 12-year-old grade 6 pupil from Dainfern, competing in a class for drivers aged between 11 and 15, was in top form, driving his Ferodo/Autoquip Birel to second in heat one, third in heat two and a win in heat three to take the overall honours for the day.
A four-way battle for each of the three races around the 1-km Bridgestone circuit was a highlight of a full day of racing in warm winter conditions. Van der Linde, Morgan McColl, Nathan Parkins and Michael Taylor contested the lead in each of three thrilling heats, with all four taking a turn at the front.
Parkins won heat one from Van der Linde, McColl and Taylor. It was McColl’s turn in heat two, crossing the finish line less than a second ahead of Parkins with Van der Linde third and Taylor again fourth. The final heat saw Van der Linde score his third win of his first season in the class, finishing over a second in front of McColl and 1,5 sec ahead of Parkins and Taylor.
With the top three each taking a win, a second and a third and all scoring 97 points on the day, the all-important overall victory went to Van der Linde by virtue of his winning the final race on the programme.
The unassuming Dainfern College schoolboy’s achievement this past weekend is all the more noteworthy since it is his first year in the class and he is competing against boys two to three years older than him, who are bigger and stronger. Van der Linde, who weighs just 39 kg with all his kit, has to carry ballast in his kart in order to make up the minimum weight of 148 kg for kart and driver.
“This is a steep learning curve for me,” he says, “but it will prepare me for next year when I can compete with drivers my own age.” He won his first two Junior Rok races in round two of the regional championship in Vereeniging in May, five days before his 12th birthday.
He has already won two karting national championships, the GP Junior class in 2008 at the age of nine and the 2010 Rotax Max Challenge Mini Max class, the latter a title his older brother Kelvin won in 2008.
He is well on his way to emulating grandfather Hennie, father Shaun and uncle Etienne in being a South African national champion at the highest level of motor sport.
Sheldon will next be in action in Vereeniging in the fifth round of the Northern Regions championships on August 25.
Issued on behalf of Vanderlinde Racing by Peter Burroughes Communications. For further information, please contact Peter Burroughes, tel 082 899 0101, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.