What to anticipate from Abt’s shock Components E stand-in

Leaping right into a automotive he’s by no means pushed in a brand new guidelines set and at considered one of Components E’s most troublesome and hair-raising tracks makes Kelvin van der Linde’s sequence debut with Abt in Diriyah subsequent weekend fairly the massive ask.

He’s been drafted in to exchange the injured Robin Frijns who doubtless faces a prolonged stint on the sidelines.

If the problem forward of van der Linde wasn’t gulp-inducing sufficient, the highly-rated GT3 driver will probably be competing in his first single-seater race of any word.

When it comes to this degree of racing he’s a whole novice.

But when he appears to be like down on the different finish of the pitlane he’ll see a gentleman known as Rene Rast who was in the same place when he made his Components E debut approach again in 2016 for the Staff Aguri squad.

Whereas that was a one-off cameo, it laid the trail for Rast to finally come again to Components E through a weird set of circumstances.

Now one other GT3 ace goes to hitch the grid after one other extraordinary set of circumstances which has laid common driver Frijns low for what’s prone to be the vast majority of the season at the least.

Dtm Round 5, Nürburgring, Germany

Van der Linde has some Components E pedigree although and he’s extremely rated by those who have labored with him. Certainly one of them is former Audi Abt group principal Allan McNish.

“He’s fast and he’ll be fast straight out of the field,” McNish advised The Race after the South African was introduced as Nico Mueller’s new team-mate at Abt Cupra.

“I believe he’s obtained the uncooked velocity wanted. He’s a bit like Robin, in a approach, he depends on his senses, which is able to stand him in good stead.

“On the identical time, he’s obtained an excellent work ethic, and I actually favored him for that.

“He labored exhausting at it. He’s light-hearted and he’s constructive and he’s all the time pushing.”

Van der Linde did a number of checks for Audi however spent the vast majority of his time on the Audi simulator. He made a public check outing on the March 2020 rookie check at Marrakesh the place he was chosen alongside fellow GT3 winner Mattia Drudi.

McNish stated that he was “happy he’s obtained his probability as a result of he wished this beforehand.

“It’s in all probability not the worst time as a result of if it was originally of season eight [2022], when everyone was used to the automotive then I believe it will have been a tougher job for somebody new to return in.

“However on the identical time, it’s no simple job ever to return right into a championship with none actual testing.”

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At that Marrakesh check van der Linde hit the bottom working and was quickest within the morning session forward of the likes of future fellow race drivers Nick Cassidy, Sergio Sette Camara, Norman Nato, Jake Hughes and Sacha Fenestraz.

Though he had some decreased working within the afternoon, van der Linde did impress the group. This was exceptional contemplating that in his entire profession, the Johannesburg native had by no means competed in a single-seater.

At that stage, it was trying more and more doubtless that it will be a remaining season for Daniel Abt with the group and that Mueller seemed to be subsequent in line. However with Mueller at Dragon after which a exceptional flip of occasions with Abt’s dismissal, Rast got here into clearer sight for the seat alongside Lucas di Grassi for 2021.

After all, previous to that Audi gave discover of its intention to go away the world championship in the summertime of 2021 anyway, so any sniff of a race seat there was gone for van der Linde.

“He definitely did sufficient time within the simulator to have the ability to get used to it as a result of plenty of these things we had been doing within the sim was power administration,” provides McNish.

“He was in a position to get his head round that, so now it’s simply bringing it into apply in a unique automotive.

“Now we have to see with completely different energy outputs and the whole lot else however he obtained the fundamentals rapidly. He wants to have the ability to rise up to hurry with what Gen3 requires however I’m satisfied he’ll.

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“It would take somewhat little bit of studying, however that specific level about getting on top of things, what I imply is from pure outright velocity tempo versus essentially the race operation.

“We noticed Lucas’ drive in Mexico didn’t we? He was so sturdy as a result of his core ability is that he’s obtained good power administration understanding.”

Van der Linde’s entry into the Components E hothouse will probably be intense however he seems to have many of the instruments out there to present it an excellent battle.

Expectations will probably be low within the circumstances and Abt Cupra is clearly a couple of steps behind the competitors proper now. However don’t be too shocked if van der Linde turns into one of many shock packages afterward within the 2023 season.

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