There’s a saying in motorsport: if you’re quick enough, you’re old enough.
For 19-year-old Sheldon van der Linde, announced as an official BMW DTM driver for the 2019 season, that old adage has once again proved to be true.The young South African, who graduates from the ADAC GT Masters series, was one of four drivers to sample BMW’s M4 DTM car during the three-day test at the Spanish Jerez de la Frontera test last December.
Following the shootout, he successfully saw off the challenge of Nick Catsburg, Nick Yelloly and Mikkel Jensen to earn the coveted third and final berth with Team RBM.
Van der Linde’s appointment fills all six BMW seats, and sees him join Philipp Eng, Joel Eriksson, Timo Glock, Bruno Spengler and Marco Wittmann as an official driver for the Munich marque.
It caps an impressive year for the South African, who finished runner-up in the 2018 ADAC GT Masters, and also successfully competed in 24-hour races at Daytona, the Nurburgring, and Spa-Francorchamps,where he finished on the podium.
“Coming from GT3, my first taste of a DTM car was quite a big step for me,” van der Linde admitted after his test at Jerez last year. “But I loved every moment. Compared to what I’ve been used to, the downforce on these cars is incredible – I had a lot of fun during the test. It was very cool.
“It’s been my dream to become a DTM driver. This is a big step – BMW only had one seat on offer, so the pressure to perform was really high.”
Van der Linde and his team-mates will resume their duties driving the new 2-litre, turbo-charged BMW M4 DTM when pre-season testing kicks off at the Lausitzring on April 15-18.