South African Kelvin Van der Linde beat 11 other African drivers including Rwanda’s Fernand Rutabingwa to a place at the FIA Institute’s 2013/14 Young Driver Excellence Academy.
The 23-year-old Rutabingwa, is a son of veteran rally driver Gracien Rutabingwa and was picked by Rwanda Automobile Club to represent the country last month.
After intensive evaluations at the Gerotek Vehicle Testing Facility, near Pretoria, Linde (17) won his place on the fully-funded Academy programme after demonstrating his ability not just on the track but also in terms of fitness and understanding of safety and vehicle dynamics.
There were three judges on the selection panel-Kate Robson (the FIA Institute) Norbert Filippits (academy training partner TTI) and Richard Leeke (Motorsport South Africa).
As soon as it was known that Linde was in pole position for the win, the South African judge disqualified himself from the final selection procedure. Linde was the unanimous choice of the other two judges.
Linde has the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of previous participants in the academy who have gone on to drive in Formula 1 and the World Rally Championship.
On the final day of the selection event, the 12 drivers were whittled down to five, who competed in a shoot-out on track.
They included Cole Bond (Zimbabwe), Cristian Bouche (Mozambique), Tejas Hirani (Kenya) and Mark Sternagel (Namibia).
Ultimately, the choice of Linde as the regional winner was based not only on the shoot-out result but on all-round skills displayed over the three days.
Linde is currently leading the championship standings in the international VW Scirocco R-Cup in Europe.