Sheldon makes South African motor racing history

The Van der Linde family of Gauteng has established many South African motor racing records over the past 30 years or so and continues to do so.  The latest Van der Linde to hit the headlines is Sheldon, at 15 the youngest driver ever to have won an Engen Volkswagen Cup national championship motor race.

The unassuming Dainfern teenager, who is in grade 9 at Dainfern College north of Johannesburg and a few kilometres west of the famous Kyalami grand prix circuit, notched up this achievement in a Ferodo-backed VW Polo at Port Elizabeth’s Aldo Scribante circuit on May 3, ten days before his 15th birthday in only his sixth race in round three of the Engen Volkswagen Cup.

Two years ago, on March 3, 2012, his older brother Kelvin, then 15, claimed the same record when he won his first VW Cup race, also in a Ferodo Polo, in his second year in the championship, which he went on to win to become the youngest ever VW Cup champion.

Last week, on August 2, he won his second race in round five of the championship at Phakisa Freeway in the Free State and is now lying second in the championship, 5 points behind 20-year-old team-mate Daniel Rowe of Port Elizabeth.

Following in the big footsteps of his brother – the 2013 international VW Scirocco R-Cup champion and currently leading the international ADAC GT Masters Championship for GT3 sports cars in an Audi R8 – Sheldon’s goal is to also win the South African VW Cup championship and graduate to international competition.

The son of former national circuit racing champion Shaun van der Linde and grandson of Hennie van der Linde, also a multiple former champion, the third generation Van der Linde has the distinction of beating father, grandfather and brother to his first senior national championship win.  Hennie van der Linde started racing at a relatively late stage and was 26 when he won his first race in a modified Datsun GX Coupe at Kyalami in 1970.  Father Shaun started racing when he was 19 and his first win came in the same year in a modified Volkswagen Golf at Kyalami. Uncle Etienne is also a South African and European motor racing champion and runs a racing driver school at Zwartkops Raceway near Pretoria.

“It’s been an awesome first year in senior circuit racing so far,” admitted Sheldon. “I have worked hard to achieve this and received a lot of help from my family to help me achieve my motor racing dreams.  We spent the whole of last year preparing for my senior circuit racing debut and covered many hundreds of kilometres on different circuits testing learning to drive a racing VW Polo. My uncle Etienne has been particularly helpful with teaching me racecraft.

Like his brother – and many other racing drivers before them who have gone on to be world champions – Sheldon started his motor racing career at a very young age in karting. He was seven years old when he competed in his first race, in the Northern Regions karting championship. He graduated through GP Junior, Mini Max, Junior ROK Northern Regions and national championships, winning two regional and two national titles: GP Junior in 2008 and Mini Max in 2010. He received his junior Protea colours for motorsport in 2011.

His next race meeting is the sixth round of the Engen Volkswagen Cup championship at Zwartkops Freeway on August 30.

Issued on behalf of Vanderlinde Racing by Peter Burroughes Communications.  For further information, please contact Peter Burroughes, tel 082 899 0101, e-mail bowtie@iafrica.com.

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