South African Sheldon van der Linde has been confirmed as BMW’s final DTM signing for the 2019 DTM, with the 19 year-old becoming the youngest driver on the grid in the coming season.
Van der Linde will be just 45 days older than fellow BMW driver Joel Eriksson was when he made his début last year, and he becomes the first South African driver to race in the DTM since the series’ inception 35 years ago.
“Welcome to the BMW Motorsport family, Sheldon van der Linde,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “It is great to have another talented youngster in our team.
“Sheldon made a fantastic impression at the wheel of the BMW M4 DTM at the Young Driver Test in mid-December. Prior to that, we had been following his career in GT racing very carefully.
“Sheldon’s speed and versatility make him the perfect addition to our BMW M Motorsport programme. I am confident that he will find his feet very quickly in the DTM.”
Previous race series’ for the youngster include the South African Volkswagen Polo Cup in 2014, which he won at the first attempt, also taking the record for the youngest national title holder in South Africa.
Van der Linde then successfully defended his title in 2015, before moving to the German Audi TT Cup in 2016.
Van der Linde made his touring car début in 2017 when he raced in the ADAC TCR Germany series with Prosport Performance, memorably claiming victory at the Sachsenring at just 18 years old.
Since then van der Linde has since tasted GT racing, campaigning an Audi R8 LMS in the ADAC GT Masters together with brother Kelvin van der Linde, with the duo finishing second overall in the championship standings after two victories in 2018.
“The Young Driver Test in the BMW M4 DTM was already a dream come true for me,” said van der Linde. “To now have a place in the team for 2019 is incredible.
“I’m very proud to be continuing a family tradition from my father with such a famous car manufacturer, and one that is also very popular back home – and to be the first South African ever in the DTM. Ultimately, a big thank you to BMW Motorsport for the trust.”
Van der Linde will race with BMW Team RBM in 2019, alongside Philipp Eng and Joel Eriksson.
BMW Team RMG will be made up of Bruno Spengler, who moves from RBM, Marco Wittmann and Timo Glock.