A RARE battle of brothers is about to spice up the racing scene in Europe, where two young South Africans will be competing against each other in the DTM series — driving for different brands.
Kelvin and Sheldon van der Linde who come from motor racing royalty will compete against each other for the first time in DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters).
Sheldon van der Linde, 21, will be racing for BMW team Rowe Racing, while older brother Kelvin, his senior by almost three years — will be driving for the Audi outfit ABT Sportsline.
For Kelvin it will be his first season as a DTM rookie, whereas it will be Sheldon’s third season.
Sheldon is the youngest DTM driver to ever claim a pole position and scored his maiden win in the series last year at Assen in The Netherlands.
The DTM touring car series is based in Germany, with rounds all over Europe.
Many Formula 1 drivers have started their careers in DTM, among them Michael and Ralf Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella, Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, Esteban Ocon, Robert Kubica, Jean Alesi and Pascal Wehrlein.
The Van der Linde lads come from proven racing stock.
Their grandfather Hennie van der Linde won five national modified saloon car championships, from 1972 to 1986.
He dominated modified saloon car racing in 1984, 1985 and 1986 in his Nissan Skyline GTX.
in fact, his record with that Nissan is legendary — 57 races in a row, a record that still stands, and probably will forever.
Then, their dad, Shaun van der Linde, won five titles in Formula GTI, touring cars and production cars, from 1992 to 2004.
He started racing a class E Golf 1300 in 1989, became the 1990 Rookie of the Year in Formula GTi racing and from then on it was success after success.
The South African Drivers Championship in Formula GTi Champion and Springbok colours were next in 1992.
Then it was into a BMW 325 Development Saloon Car Team in 1993.
This was followed by a win in Group N Racing at the Nurburgring, Germany, and the South African Super Touring Car Title.
Shaun raced at Donington in the UK, then in the South African Touring Car Championship until 2000 — against the Opels, Audis and Nissans.
Then it was back into BMW Production cars where he won again, until his first outing in a Mini — where he shone.
Their uncle, Etienne van der Linde, was also a star.
He won national championships in karting, Formula Vee and Formula GTI and open wheelers in South Africa, and in Formula Opel in Europe and Germany in 1998.
But back to the present.
“For both of us, the goal will be to become the best driver of our respective brands, so Audi for me and BMW for Sheldon,” Kelvin said.
Depending on the track, his brother Sheldon sees the varying characteristics of the GT3 race cars as decisive for the chances of success.
“It will be the case that at least one of us is there at the front at as many tracks as possible.”
Sheldon made his DTM debut at the age of 19 in 2019 as a factory BMW driver, scoring a maiden pole position just four races into the season at Zolder.
The South African driver was one of the star performers in the BMW stable last year, finishing a strong sixth in the championship after bagging a maiden win at Assen.
He will be joined on the DTM grid by his elder brother Kelvin, who will drive an Audi R8 LMS GT3 for Abt alongside 2013 series champion Mike Rockenfeller.
“I am delighted still to be racing in the DTM in a BMW,” Sheldon said.
“After two years and many highlights in the series, my goal is now to use the experience I have gained.
“In doing so, I want to help improve both myself and the team.
“I am very proud to be part of the Rowe Racing project. On the other hand, I am really pleased that Kelvin has also made it into the DTM.
“We have both always dreamed of driving in the DTM at some point.
“It is simply unbelievable that, from June, we are actually going to be facing each other in the biggest touring car series in the world.”
While the two brothers want to race each other at the track in a fair way, they are spending most of the rest of their time together.
The two have been sharing an apartment in Kempten in the south of Germany for several years and have worked their way up from junior race series all the way into DTM.
They also shared the wheel of an Audi R8 in the 2018 24-Hours of Daytona.
Kelvin and Sheldon van der Linde are the first brother pairing since Gerd and Jürgen Ruch, who raced each other with Ford Mustangs in DTM in the early 1990s.
There were also rival brother pairings in the early DTM days in the 1980s, with twin brothers Heinz-Otto and Jürgen Fritzsche with Opel.
The most famous brothers to race in DTM, however, has been Michael and Ralf Schumacher, although they never actually raced against each other.
Michael drove occasionally in 1990 and 1991 while Ralf was a permanent DTM driver from 2008 until 2012.
The Winkelhock family even had three brothers racing in DTM, albeit Manfred only in 1984, while Thomas raced from 1990 until 1992, and Joachim from 1986 to 1992 and from 2000 to 2003.