After an intensive three days of tests and evaluations at the Gerotek vehicle testing facility near Pretoria, South African teenager Kelvin Van der Linde has earned selection to the FIA Institute's 2013/14 Young Driver Excellence Academy.
Van der Linde, 17, won his place on the fully-funded Academy programme after demonstrating his ability not just on the track but also in terms of fitness and understanding of safety and vehicle dynamics.
He now has the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of previous participants in the Academy who have gone on to drive in Formula One and the World Rally Championship.
On the final day of selection the 12 drivers were whittled down to five, who competed in a shoot-out on track. They included Van der Linde, Cole Bond (Zimbabwe), Cristian Bouche (Mozambique), Tejas Hirani (Kenya) and Mark Sternagel (Namibia).
“INCLUDE ME OUT.”
There were originally three selection-panel judges - FIA Institute representative Kate Robson, Norbert Filippits from Academy training partner TTI and Richard Leeke, for event host Motorsport South Africa - but as soon as it was known that Van der Linde was in consideration for the win, Leeke recused himself.
Van der Linde was, however, the unanimous choice of the remaining panellists and will now join Lithuania's Ignas Gelzinis, the winner of the European regional selection, and Saudi Arabia's Abdullah Bamogaddam, winner of the Middle East and Mediterranean event, on the Academy programme, together with the winners of the Americas and Asia Pacific selections, which will be held at the end of October, and three additional wild-card entries to form the eight-man Academy Class of 2013/2014.
Beginning in December, the Academy training programme will help the talented young drivers develop their motorsport careers by improving their safety skills and promoting the principles of safety, fairness and responsibility, on and off the track.