Kelvin van der Linde on the top step, next to Michelle Gatting – the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup podium had a familiar look about it for the third time in a row. The 17-year-old South African produced an accomplished performance in an eventful race at the Norisring in Nuremberg to complete a hat-trick of wins and extend his overall lead in the only natural gas-powered one-make cup in the world. The ladies also showed nerves of steel: as well as Denmark’s Gatting, Swede Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky also impressed, finishing fourth behind Manuel Fahnauer.
In contrast, DTM legend Nicola Larini (49), who started the race as one of the favourites, endured a disappointing day. The winner of the opening race of the season at the Hockenheimring made a strong start, but was then handed a drive-through penalty by the race management for taking a shorter route through a hairpin. Because he came into the pit lane one lap too late for his penalty, Larini was then shown the black flag. As a result, three-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner (47), who finished an impressive fifth overall, was top dog in the racing legends competition. Harald Grohs (69) in 13th and Belgian’s Marc Duez (56), who finished 16th in the 22-man field, also showed they have lost little of their speed.
Thousands of spectators treated to bumper-to-bumper duels on the street circuit
Starting from third on the grid, van der Linde first overtook Gatting on the opening lap. On lap three, the teenager pulled off a stunning manoeuvre to overtake pole-sitter Nicolai Moller Madsen. The Dane then took out his compatriot Kasper H. Jensen after a failed braking manoeuvre, meaning the end of the race for both drivers.
A safety car phase ensued, before the race got underway again three laps later. While van der Linde pulled clear, Michelle Gatting successfully defended second place. Ahlin-Kottulinsky narrowly missed out on her first podium finish, crossing the line just 0.8 seconds behind Manuel Fahnauer, who made his first appearance on the podium and also won the Junior competition.
The thousands of fans in the packed grandstands were also thrilled by the wealth of experience on display in the Legends competition. Marco Werner called on all his experience to climb from eleventh on the grid to finish fifth, while Harald Grohs made up seven places during the race. In the team duel between the racing legends, the Motorsport Allstars currently lead the DTM Legends 116:70.
Winner Kelvin van der Linde picked up the full 60 points on offer for a race win for the first time this year. In the first three races of the season, the points were halved, in order to give the talented youngsters the chance to find their feet in the series. The multiple winner took full advantage of this opportunity: van der Linde now tops the overall standings on 140 points, ahead of his only serious rival Gatting (120). The next two races will take place at the Nürburgring on 17th and 18th August.
Quotes after the race at the Norisring:
# 20 Kelvin van der Linde
Qualifying: 3 – Race 1: “Going into the weekend, I never expected to win at the Norisring. The race is the toughest of the season, as the gaps between each car are so small that anyone can come out on top. I made a good start, which allowed me to overtake Michelle on the first lap. When I then passed Nicolai Moller Madsen shortly after that, I used the Push-to-pass system to open up a gap. I also timed the re-start after the safety car phase perfectly. The overall standings obviously look very good now, but there are still five races to go. I would like to dedicate my win to Allan Simonsen, in memory of whom we all bore a sticker on our cars. He was a fantastic racing driver, and was in the thoughts of all the Scirocco-Cup drivers today.”
# 19 Michelle Gatting
Qualifying: 2 – Race 2: “I am not that happy with the way the race panned out. Second place is a nice result, but I had my sights set on winning prior to the race. Unfortunately I lost two places shortly after the start. I also drove too aggressively today, so my brakes were too hot towards the end of the race. The crash involving Nicolai and Kasper was almost exactly the same as what happened to me last year, when a driver took me out in the hairpin. I drove well at the Nürburgring last year, so will be out to finally claim my first win there. However, it will not be easy, as Kelvin is almost unbeatable at the moment.”
# 2 Manuel Fahnauer
Qualifying: 5 – Race 3: “My first podium. There can be no better feeling! I am overjoyed. I was able to stay out of the carnage at the start, and then found myself towards the front of the field very early on, as a result of the crash. At the re-start after the safety car phase I tried to attack Michelle, but there was not really any opportunity to overtake. I am now looking forward to the next race at the Nürburgring. Third place definitely makes you hungry for more.”
# 32 Nicola Larini
Qualifying: 9 – DNF: “I tried to duck inside at the start, but then saw that there was no room. I had to take a short cut in order to avoid a collision in the hairpin. After that I looked in the mirror and thought that the running order was back how it had been previously. I noticed the drive-through penalty too late. It is a shame that my race ended that way. Despite this, it was great to see my old colleagues again. Strangely enough, the same marshal who showed me the black flag today did exactly the same thing to me at the same place 20 years ago after a manoeuvre against Klaus Ludwig!”
# 31 Marco Werner
Qualifying: 11 – Race 5: “The race was great fun! It is a shame we cannot do it all again on Sunday, as I have just warmed up. That must be the endurance driver in me. I am very happy with fifth place. My start was good, then I was involved in a nice duel with Nicola Larini until he was handed his drive-through penalty. At least I added to the points tally in the team duel between the Motorsport Allstars and the DTM Legends. We are now well in front.”
# 33 Harald Grohs
Qualifying: 20 – Race 13: “Compliments to the young drivers in the Scirocco R-Cup. The action out on the track was very fair all weekend. Most of them are already very adept tactically. However, we old hands still know what it is all about. I was able to make up a few places at the end, as I had paced myself well with the Push-to-pass system. I have utmost respect for Michelle Gatting, who is driving really well this season. I am sure she will soon take her place on the top step of the podium. It was also hugely enjoyable racing against my former colleagues again.”
# 34 Marc Duez
Qualifying: 22 – Race 16: “This time I took a very cautious approach, after I had a crash in the first corner here two years ago. I tried to pass Harald on the opening lap, but the old dog is still pretty quick! The Scirocco-Cup is excellent, and the perfect training ground for young racing drivers. There is also a great atmosphere between the youngsters and us legends – they have no respect out on the track, but are very pleasant and polite to us off it.”