South African racing prodigy Sheldon van der Linde is ready and prepared for his European Audi TT Cup debut following his first two Audi Sport Race Academy Modules and the official 2016 TT Cup test. Van der Linde is one of three drivers to be selected to the prestigious new academy alongside Hungarian lass Vivien Keszthelyi and Dane Nicklas Nielsen and the Dainfern, Johannesburg 16-year old was in high spirits on his return home following a flurry of preseason activity.
“I will embrace these experiences forever!” the delighted reigning double-South African Engen Volkswagen Polo Cup champion reflected. “Both Audi Sport Racing Academy modules completely exceeded my every expectation — the level of detail we went into on car setup, media training, fitness and nutrition will certainly prepare Audi Sport’s future factory drivers for the highest level and I’m honoured to be part of it.”
The Audi Sport Race Experience is a brand new program designed to develop ihe brand’s most promising junior race drivers to their fullest potential for future Audi race programs and the recent Muonio, Finland Ice Driving aspect and an intensive driving program at the Nurburgring were Sheldon’s first of seven extensive training modules in a syllabus covering every racing facet from pure driving in a variety of disciplines and conditions to physical fitness; mental training and nutrition across to public relations, sponsorship and automotive engineering.
“The ice experience driving Audi RS5 road cars in Finland was definitely a highlight,” Sheldon explained. “It is amazing how much progress we made on the snow each day with the assistance of instructors Pierre Kaffer and Rahel Frey who shared their years of experience and knowledge. “Nurburgring on the other hand, was a great opportunity for me to learn the track for my upcoming Audi TT Cup races and to understand the finer points in tuning and setting up the car to best suit my driving style.”
Van der Linde then headed straight to the official pre-season Hockenheim TT Cup test. “There were also so many positives to take from the test,” Sheldon admitted. “It was another ideal opportunity to learn the track and make fine adjustments on the setup of my car and I was happy to consistently be in the top 3 and particularly happy with my race simulation where I ended up quickest. “That gives me great confidence.
“I hope to carry that momentum through to the opening race in Hockenheim next month,” Sheldon concluded. “Now I’m counting the days and making every day count to be certain that I’m perfectly prepared for that first race. “So yeah – I’m a happy boy right now!”
Sheldon’s first Audi Sport TT Cup meeting is at Hockenheim on 7-8 May.
Driver in car: Sheldon van der Linde is ready to race in the European Audi TT Cup