SE­RIES RE­TURNS

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - MOTORING STAFF

SOUTH Africa’s Kelvin van der Linde snatched a dra­matic vic­tory in the clos­ing stages of the Nur­bur­gring 24 Hour race for the Land Audi team, along­side German driv­ers Christo­pher Mies and Markus Winkel­hock and US driver Con­nor De Phillippi.

Van der Linde and his team­mates had dom­i­nated the race which started on Satur­day at the fa­mous German cir­cuit, and led for 125 laps. How­ever the Audi R8 LMS car de­vel­oped an elec­tri­cal prob­lem just be­fore the fi­nal hour shortly af­ter Kelvin took the wheel on Sun­day, and he was forced to crawl back to the pits where the team quickly re­set the Audi’s elec­tron­ics.

This dropped the car down to third, some three min­utes off the lead as van der Linde headed back out with seem­ingly all hopes of vic­tory lost. But op­por­tu­nity struck with a late rain shower that left parts of the track wet and oth­ers dry.

The team took a gam­ble to switch to wet rub­ber while other cars stayed on slick tyres, and it was an in­spired de­ci­sion: the Jo­han­nes­burg driver scythed through to re­take the lead on the treach­er­ous sur­face, scor­ing the team’s first vic­tory.

The Land Audi com­pleted 158 laps, fin­ish­ing 29.4 sec­onds ahead of the BMW M6 GT3 of Richard West­brook, Markus Palt­tala, Nicky Cats­burg and Alexan­der Sims. In third place, 50.6 sec­onds be­hind, were Robin Fri­jns, Marcel Fassler, Rene Rast and Nico Muller in an­other Audi R8 LMS.

Kelvin, part of the fa­mous Van der Linde rac­ing fam­ily, be­came South Africa’s 2012 Volk­swa­gen Polo Cup cham­pion at the age of just 16. Kelvin then went to Ger­many where he won the 2013 Euro­pean Volk­swa­gen Scirocco R-Cup and grabbed Audi’s at­ten­tion be­fore promptly win­ning the 2014 ADAC GT Mas­ters ti­tle driv­ing an Audi R8, aged 18.

An­other South African en­tered in the race was 20-year old Jor­dan Pep­per, who qual­i­fied 13th in his Abt Team Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT3. Pep­per, who shared the car with the German trio of Chris­tian Mamerow, Chris­ter Jöns and Christo­pher Brück, re­tired early af­ter hit­ting the bar­ri­ers due to a brake prob­lem.

Kelvin van der Linde gam­bled on wet tyres to take a dra­matic vic­tory.

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