Ferodo Racing and Kelvin van der Linde won their first senior circuit racing national championship with a decisive victory in the Engen Volkswagen Cup at Kyalami on Saturday. Van der Linde, who led the championship from 2011 champion Devin Robertson by 43 points with a maximum of 62 on offer, made sure of the title with impressive back-to-back wins in the season finale. His final score after nine rounds was 429 to Robertson’s 367, a margin of 62 points.
It was an historic moment for both Van der Linde and Ferodo Racing. The grade 10 pupil from Johannesburg, who is 16 years and 128 days old, followed in the footsteps of grandfather Hennie and father Shaun, who were both multiple SA champions and became what is believed to be the youngest ever senior circuit racing champion. He takes over the claim from his uncle, Etienne, who won the national Formula Vee title in 1994 at the age of 16 years and 270 days.
Another highlight of Saturday’s season finale was Gennaro Bonadefe’s maiden win in class A of the Bridgestone South African Production Car Championship in a Ferodo Audi S4. The 22-year-old Pretoria University engineering student from Johannesburg made the most of wet and slippery conditions in his all-wheel drive car to win the day’s rain-affected feature race after starting from 10th on the grid. It was an impressive performance by the youngster who was driving the Audi in only his third race meeting in class A after moving up from class T, where he was a race winner in a Ferodo VW Golf GTi. Earlier in the day he had finished eighth in the first of the day’s back-to-back sprint races after being slowed by a persistent engine misfire. He was unable to start the second sprint after experiencing a loss of fuel pressure on the grid.
The third member of the Ferodo Racing team, Ernie van der Walt, scored a ninth and a fifth place in the final two races of the Formula Volkswagen Championship. After qualifying sixth behind Tato Carello, he spent both races trying to get past Carello. Although he lapped quicker than his rival in both races, his car just did not have the power to make a safe pass. He almost made it in the last corner of the last lap of the first race, only for the two cars to touch while they were lying fifth and sixth. They both went off the circuit and dropped to eighth and ninth respectively.
“Kelvin’s historic achievement made this season our best ever and we congratulate him on his first national senior title,” said a delighted Ronnie Erasmus, motor sport manager of Federal-Mogul, manufacturers of Ferodo brake pads. “The Ferodo Young Driver race programme was instituted five years ago with the aim of supporting up-and-coming young drivers by giving them a chance in senior circuit racing. Kelvin, like Devin Robertson and Gennaro Bonafede before him, represents exactly the kind of young talent we have tried to identify and nurture. His success this weekend is the greatest reward we could have asked for.”