Africa awaits Academy Hopeful

Young drivers from across Africa set to compete for Academy placeThe first selection event for the 2015 FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy will feature 17 drivers from across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Matthew Swanepoel
Matthew Swanepoel


They include drivers from the Scirocco R-Cup, Formula Masters China Series, Formula Ford and the South African Rally Championship. But only the winner of the selection event will receive a guaranteed place on the Academy.

This year’s Academy involves a series of six qualifying events in regions across the world to give as many drivers as possible the opportunity to participate. This first event will be hosted by Motorsport South Africa on September 21 to 24 at the Gerotek Test Centre west of Pretoria, one of the most advanced vehicle testing and driver training facilities in Africa.

FIA National Sporting Authorities (ASNs) in the region were asked to put forward their nominations, which were then assessed by the FIA Institute. To encourage development of drivers, ASNs in this region were allowed two nominations each. Minimum criteria were set that drivers had to meet, including the requirement to have demonstrated strong performance in national competition so far.


South Africa’s nominations, Matthew Swanepoel and Jordan Pepper, will follow in the footsteps of last year’s Africa region and overall winner Kelvin van der Linde and Henk Lategan, who received a wild card invitation.

Swanepoel, 19, has been contesting the Formula Masters China Series while Pepper has won the 2014 Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup in Europe with one round of this international series remaining. Van der Linde won this championship in 2013 and this year leads the international ADAC GT Masters Championship in an Audi R8.

A third southern Africa Thilo Himmel, 23, who will represent Namibia, is a rally driver who is contesting the South African Rally Championship.

For the selection event, the competitors will undergo rigorous exercises to evaluate fitness, driving performance, media expertise, teamwork and psychology. One driver will be chosen as the winner to go forward to the 2015 Young Driver Excellence Academy. They will receive a fully-funded training programme, which aims to help drivers develop their motor sport careers, whilst increasing safety skills and actively promoting the principles of safety, fairness and responsibility on and off the track.

George Avvakoumides, chairman of the board of directors of Motorsport South Africa, said that MSA was honoured and delighted to once again be given the opportunity to organise the sub-Saharan Africa training and selection event for the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy.

“We look forward to welcoming the participants to South Africa. We successfully organised the inaugural training and selection event in South Africa in 2014. We wish all the participants well.”