16-year-old Sheldon van der Linde will compete in the 2016 Audi Sport TT Cup, following a successful selection process that saw 125 young racers from 36 nations competing for the twenty available race seats.
Audi Sport held two driver scouting events during October and December 2015, but Sheldon was invited to go straight into the second session in Vallelunga, Italy, as a result of his stellar track record in the highly competitive Volkswagen Polo Cup series in South Africa, where he won back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015, becoming the youngest ever senior circuit racing champion with his first title.
The Audi Sport TT Cup features 14 races in Germany, as well as the famous Zandvoort circuit in Holland and the Budapest Grand Prix circuit in Hungary. Six rounds are support events to the DTM (German Touring Car Championship), arguably the most technological saloon racing series in the world. Each race features two heats of half an hour, giving the young racers plenty of seat time, which is the most precious commodity in a youngster’s career. The 2015 season saw racers complete over 2600 race laps, which equates to over 9500km of racing.
The Audi TT Coupe race cars are all identically prepared by quattro GmbH in Germany, ensuring complete fairness in the series, which enters its second season in 2016. The Audi TT weighs 1125kg and produces 228kW from the two-litre TSFI engine. An extra 22kW is briefly available to aid overtaking with a ‘push-to-pass’ function. A blue lamp in the windshield indicates the boost activation. LEDs in the rear window show rivals and spectators how many times the driver can still use the additional power. The number of available boosts is defined by the regulations.
In addition the TT race-car features ABS and an electronically variable differential provides optimal traction to the front axle, as well as traction control. Aerodynamics and the cooling systems have been optimised for the racing series.
In the inaugural 2015 Audi TT Cup, the average age of the 18 male and female racers was 22½ years; the youngest driver was the Finn Joonas Lappalainen, at age 17, with the oldest being 25.
On hearing the news that he has been accepted by Audi Sport to fill one of the twenty seats, Sheldon said: “I am extremely excited to start my European motorsport career with Audi Sport in the TT Cup next season; a new challenge, and the perfect opportunity for me to showcase my ability against the best young drivers in Europe, and one step closer to fulfilling my dreams of becoming an Audi Sport factory driver in DTM or the FIA World Endurance Championship one day”.
2016 Audi Sport TT Cup calendar:
06–08/05 Hockenheim (D)
26–29/05 Nürburgring (D)
24–26/06 Norisring (D)
15–17/07 Zandvoort (NL)
09–11/09 Nürburgring (D)
23–25/09 Budapest (H)
14–16/10 Hockenheim (D)