Kelvin van der Linde is looking forward to his debuts at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour after the Montaplast by Land Motorsport team came so close to the GT Daytona class victory last year.
The South African driver won the Nürburgring 24 in his breakout year in GT3 racing last year while Land claimed class honors in the Motul Petit Le Mans in October.
Van der Linde starts his season with debuts at Daytona and Bathurst, ahead of a possible expanded IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program.
“It’s really exciting,” he told Sportscar365. “Both of these races are my first time. Luckily, for here, I’ve done a lot of testing. We had a private test in December with the Roar test in January.
“We’re quite well set up. For Bathurst, I’m flying on Monday after the race and I think two of the most prominent GT races in the world, back to back, will be awesome.
“Of course, to win Daytona and take that watch home at the end of the day, is what we’re all trying to do. It would be a special feeling but it’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure.”
Twelve months ago, Land came just 0.293 seconds away from class victory in the Rolex 24, missing out to Alegra Motorsports.
Van der Linde is hopeful the team can have an even better chance this weekend with himself, brother Sheldon van der Linde, Christopher Mies and Jeffrey Schmidt driving.
It comes ahead of an expected full-season program for the German squad, which both van der Linde brothers could be a part of.
“It’s always difficult to figure out how the BoP is different every year but if we just look at ourselves we’re much more prepared in terms of damper development and stuff we’ve done over December and so on,” Kelvin said.
“Personally, we should be in a better position that last year, but that obviously depends on what others are doing.
“I think Ferrari are looking extremely strong. On raw pace, it would be difficult to beat them but strategy-wise, everything is possible and it’s a long race.”
Bathurst Debut Next Week
Looking ahead to next weekend, van der Linde said he’s just as excited about his Bathurst debut with Valvoline Jamec Pem Racing alongside Garth Tander and Frederic Vervisch.
He enters the opening round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge on the heels of victory in last year’s season finale at Laguna Seca.
“I’ve spent a lot of time on the simulator and the team sent me some booklets from last year with all the data and so on,” van der Linde said of his preparation for the infamous Mount Panorama circuit.
“That’s quite useful and nowadays the simulators are so good, it’s 80 percent there. I should be ready for Bathurst.
“We get a fair amount of track time as well so I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t be competitive straight off the bat.
“I’m loving it and it’s going so well. I’m just trying to ride the wave as long as I can.
“It’s been really good to be in a position where I’ve always had good equipment and a good lineup every time so that always helps, I guess. ”
John Dagys contributed to this report