With just three visits to the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in 2022 which culminated in victory in the 24-hours race, Kelvin van der Linde joined the NLS last weekend and took victory in the Pagid Racing 46. DMV Münsterlandpokal. The South African driver continued his winning streak by partnering up with Kuba Giermaziak in the Scherer Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS GT3.
Although only his fourth visit of the year, the South African driver couldn’t wait to get back to the Eifel.
“It’s good [to be back], I really love racing here,” exclaims an ebullient Van der Linde. “Every time I get the opportunity I take it with both hands so I didn’t have to think long when I got the offer to come and drive.”
Having cantered to what seemed like an easy win, taking the first two stints and handing the car over to Giermaziak to bring the car home with a minute in hand, Van der Linde is happy to give credit to the Phoenix Racing team who prepared the Audi along with his Polish teammate.
“I think the team are just mega. Like every weekend they are here with the NLS, so they have all the data and experience, the car is being fine-tuned every weekend and there’s not many teams doing this every NLS race so just that experience and knowing how the race works. Kuba is doing a great job, he also races here every weekend and my experience on the Nordschleife was of a good team today.
“Kuba is great, a very nice guy. This was my first time racing with him and I really enjoyed it and I hope it’s not the last time, so maybe next year there’s an opportunity to do it again.”
Where race weekends are often as much about data collection as winning races, the Nordschleife shouldn’t be any different but sometimes it can be hard to get it to give up its secrets.
“On the Nordschleife you don’t look at data as much as you would on a normal DTM weekend, so to be honest it’s hard to say. Maybe if I go and look after the weekend and do a bit of work then for sure there are one or two things you can find. But these VLN weekends you come on a Friday afternoon, do two or three laps. Yesterday was wet, the qualifying this morning was wet and the first laps I did in the dry were in the race.
“The Nordschleife is always driving a bit on feeling so for sure there are always a couple of things you can find as a driver, but I think at the Nordschleife the guys who are really the quick ones are the ones driving on feeling that are able to convert the feeling into performance.”
With the season coming to an end and eyes now turning to 2023, Van der Linde is looking forward to another year with Audi although is clearly disappointed that the LMDh project has been paused.
“I’m looking to be back in Australia at the end of the year and probably Abu Dhabi, the Gulf 12 Hours, so two more races and then we look towards 2023. I’ve more or less signed everything, just final details. Nothing confirmed 100 percent but hopefully in the next two or three weeks we’ll be able to say something but let’s say it will not be anything drastically different from what I’m doing now.
“I would love to race the prototypes, but at the moment it’s just not realistic. I thought I had a good chance with Audi and I was doing a lot of development at that point but they changed a lot for everyone involved in the programme. Obviously it was a big shock so we’ll find another route but obviously I’m happy to drive any kind of race car at the moment.”
Interview by Miguel Bosch.
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