Teenage driver on top again
The winners of the annual Bridgestone/SAGMJ Motorsportsman of the Year award have been announced
KELVIN van der Linde, the 18-year-old reigning Bridgestone SA/South African Guild of Motoring Journalists Motor Sportsman of the Year, has made it two in a row. Van der Linde, who last year at age 17 became the youngest recipient of this prestigious award, has been honoured again this year.
The talented track racing star received the top award at a function in Johannesburg for his exceptional performance in the prestigious international GP Masters Series last year.
Van der Linde went back to Germany in his matric year to compete in the prestigious championship in an Audi RS8 of the Prosperia C Abt team. He and partner Rene Rast were the class of the field and won the title against some of the finest sports car and F1 drivers in the world.
This world-class achievement follows the former national karting champion and Volkswagen Cup champion’s victory in the 2013 International VW Scirocco R-Cup against drivers from 24 countries.
During 2013 he was also chosen to attend the elite FIA Institute Young Drivers Excellence Academy as Africa’s representative after an exhaustive selection process. This year he will take his burgeoning career to the next level with a full-time drive in the international GT Masters for the official Audi factory team.
The accolade, which recognises outstanding and remarkable achievements by South African motor sport competitors, was first awarded in 1964. It has been sponsored by Bridgestone SA for the past 22 years.
There were ten other nominees for the prestigious award, including Moto3 GP rider Brad Binder, national rally navigator champion Elvene Coetzee, Dakar star Giniel de Villiers, British Formula Ford Championship winner Jayde Kruger, Jonathan Wing, who won the 2014 international Handikart Championship, Jordan Pepper, who won the 2014 FIA Institute of Young Drivers Excellency Award for Africa, SA national rally champion Leeroy Poulter, Engen Volkswagen Polo Championship winner Sheldon van der Linde, and Wade Young, who took the SA national Endure Motorcycle Championship.
The remaining finalist was the entire SA Karting Team which won the Rotax Max Chal- lenge in Spain last year.
The winner of the Colin Watling Award for special achievement in motor sport by someone other than a competitor was Toby Venter, CEO of Porsche SA. Venter, a long-time competitor in local motorsport and winner of numerous Porsche challenges, bought the Kyalami Grand Prix racing circuit to save the iconic track for South African motorsport.
Also nominated for the award was Glyn Hall. Hall, a multiple recipient of this award, is the inspirational leader of the Toyota Motorsport team who won both the South African Donaldson Cross-Country and SA Rally Championships. Eighteen Toyota Hilux vehicles built at his Hallspeed workshops competed in the 2015 Dakar, with five in the top 20 (car category).
Kelvin van der Linde, above, took the Motor Sportsman of the Year award for the second year in a row. Left: Winner of the Colin Watling Award for special achievement in motor sport is Toby Venter, flanked by Dennis and Hester Watling.