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Van der Linde Yet to Re-Sign With Audi; Has “Various Options”

South African GT star weighing multiple offers in possible move away from Audi…

Photo: Audi

Kelvin van der Linde revealed that he’s yet to re-sign with Audi Sport for next year, stating that he has “other offers” on the table from manufacturers that could see the GT racing star switch brands.

The 26-year-old South African, who has been one of Audi’s top-rated GT3 drivers, indicated that the lack of new pathways within the German manufacturer’s motorsports programs has him re-evaluating his future.

It comes as four other drivers: Rene Rast, Nico Mueller, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, have all left Audi in recent months, either directly or indirectly linked to the manufacturer’s aborted LMDh program that was set to debut next year.

Van der Linde, who has represented Audi most recently in DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli, said the calling off of the LMDh project “left me a bit in the dark.”

When asked about his current status with Audi, van der Linde told Sportscar365: “I’m in negotiations.

“They’ve taken a bit longer than we would have liked.

“The future, in general in motorsport, is a bit complicated with mixed feelings for everybody. It’s no different for me in my scenario.

“We’re looking to do what’s the best for us. I feel very happy with Abt in DTM.

“It’s a program I’m a big fan of but at the same time that’s only eight weekends a year, so [I’m] trying to fill up my calendar with the most attractive program that I can find and looking at the various options at the moment.”

Van der Linde said “the intention is there from both parties” for a return to DTM next year with Abt, although the team has yet to confirm whether it will be campaigning Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo IIs.

Beyond a desire to remain in the German-based GT3 sprint series, which has now been taken over by ADAC, van der Linde, who has been an Audi Sport driver since 2015, expressed interest in both prototype racing and Formula E.

He already has experience in both formulas, having contested a partial season of the Asian Le Mans Series in a Phoenix Racing-entered LMP2 car in 2021 after getting a tryout in an Abt-run Audi e-tron FE06 during the Formula E rookie test in Marakesh one year earlier.

“The late pausing of the LMDh program from Audi upset my plans a bit,” van der Linde said. “I was heavily involved with that, doing simulator work and so-on.

“Once that program got ‘paused’ as it’s officially being named, it was a bit too late to run to another manufacturer because most of the other guys already had their plan and drivers signed up.

“It left me a bit in the dark but I think on the other side of things, Formula E is looking very attractive still, obviously with Abt coming back into Formula E, it’s an interesting proposition for me.

“There’s a lot of gateways. Prototype isn’t the only one. It would be great; I think it would be my dream as well.

“Seeing my brother making the step with BMW, which he throughly deserved. I believe I can make that same transition.

“We have the same background leading up to it, so there’s no reason I can’t do the same.

“I would have the capability and the experience through that in endurance racing I believe. But at the moment the opportunities are limited in a competitive environment.”

Van der Linde, however, has given props to the recent restructuring of Audi Sport, including the arrival of Rolf Michl as its new motorsport boss in September that has brought “some fresh air” into the program.

“I’m a big fan of Rolf,” he said. “I’ve known him also before he took over his current role.

“He was head of TT Cup back in the day; he was heading up that project. It goes back a couple of years that I’ve known him.

“He’s definitely brought in some fresh air into the program, no doubt, which is a positive sign.

“At the same time, I am a realistic person and all of the programs as a pro driver that you want to be involved with, they’re not offering that at the moment.

“It is a bit of a disappointment, something we need to look at, and that’s obviously why we’ve taken so long to evaluate our options for next year.

“We do have other offers on the table that we have to look at.

“Obviously the longstanding loyalty with Audi… I started my career with VW, transitioned to Audi. It’s something that’s important to me. It’s not something I’d let go of lightly.

“It’s a lot of thinking to be done, so let’s see.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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