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Van der Linde Exits Audi Factory Roster as Gachet, Hofer Join

Kelvin van der Linde departs Audi factory lineup while two new drivers sign…

Photo: Audi Sport

Kelvin van der Linde has departed Audi Sport after eight years as a factory driver while Simon Gachet and Max Hofer have joined the manufacturer’s works roster for 2023.

Nürburgring 24 winner van der Linde and TCR driver Nathanael Berthon have both exited the program, which stands at 14 official drivers this season.

Their departures add to an exodus of factory drivers over the winter including Rene Rast, Dries Vanthoor, Charles Weerts and Nico Mueller, which were largely part of the fallout from Audi canceling its LMDh program.

After achieving success in single-make Volkswagens and winning the 2014 ADAC GT Masters title, Audi snapped up a teenage van der Linde in 2015. He went on to represent the brand for several years, often appearing in factory-supported entries at major races.

Audi Sport has moved to offset van der Linde and Berthon’s exits by signing Gachet and Hofer, both of whom are familiar with the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II.

29-year-old Frenchman Gachet drove for Tresor by Car Collection in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS last year, while 23-year-old Austrian Hofer represented Aust Motorsport in International GT Open and has also competed at the N24.

Furthermore, Audi Sport has retained Mattia Drudi, Luca Engstler, Ricardo Feller, Christopher Haase, Pierre Kaffer, Gilles Magnus, Dennis Marschall, Christopher Mies, Patric Niederhauser, Frank Stippler, Frederic Vervisch and Markus Winkelhock.

“With this driver lineup, we are well positioned for the 2023 season and can support customers with the individual strengths of our drivers in a wide variety of programs,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing.

“A warm welcome to Simon and Max, who have known our products for a long time. We’ve been watching them for years and are happy to be able to give them these opportunities.

“A big thank you also goes to two other drivers who are no longer part of our squad this year. Nathanael Berthon achieved victories for us in the WTCR FIA World Touring Car Cup and made a major contribution to the development of the Audi RS 3 LMS.

“Kelvin van der Linde has clinched championship titles, 24-hour race victories and many other successes with Audi.

“Even though he is giving his career a new impetus, we would be happy to see him in the cockpit of an Audi R8 LMS again in the near future for individual programs or races.”

Van der Linde won the N24 with Land Motorsport in 2017 before claiming the GT Masters title with Rutronik Racing and the Suzuka 10 Hours with Team WRT in 2019.

The South African told Sportscar365 in December that he had “other offers” on the table for this year amid uncertainty about whether he would continue with Audi Sport.

The 26-year-old recently received a late call to race for ABT Cupra in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship following a wrist injury to full-time driver Robin Frijns.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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