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Kelvin van der Linde splits with Audi as GT manufacturing unit lineup revealed

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The elder of the van der Linde brothers was absent from Audi’s buyer racing announcement on Tuesday, the place it named 14 drivers as a part of its manufacturing unit line-up for 2023.

He leaves Audi after almost a decade underneath its umbrella, successful the GT Masters title in 2014 and 2019 and coming near clinching the championship within the DTM at his first try in 2021. His different successes embody two outright wins on the Nurburgring 24 Hours, the second of which was scored final 12 months.

Perception: The remarkable rise of the van der Linde family in GT racing

The South African turns into the newest high-profile driver to depart Audi, whose determination to drag out of a deliberate LMDh assault on the World Endurance Championship has had widespread ramifications elsewhere inside its motorsport programmes.

Van der Linde’s DTM rivals Nico Muller and Rene Rast departed on the finish of final 12 months to hitch Peugeot and BMW respectively, whereas Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts additionally jumped ship over the winter to BMW together with the WRT group.

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“Kelvin van der Linde has clinched championship titles, 24-hour race victories and plenty of different successes with Audi,” stated Audi buyer racing boss Chris Reinke.

“Despite the fact that he’s giving his profession a brand new impetus, we’d be pleased to see him within the cockpit of an Audi R8 LMS once more within the close to future for particular person programmes or races.”

Van der Linde’s future at Audi has been underneath query for a while, as he told Autosport last summer that he would like to “broaden horizons” as he didn’t wish to be seen as a “GT3 specialist anymore”.

The 26-year-old is but to touch upon his departure from Audi, nor has he introduced his full racing programme for 2023.

Kelvin van der Linde, Workforce ABT Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3

Picture by: DTM

He retains a powerful relationship along with his DTM squad Abt, which is able to proceed to run the R8 LMS GT3 within the ADAC-acquired collection this 12 months however is expected to downscale to just two cars.

Van der Linde will make a 3rd System E look for Abt at his dwelling occasion in Cape City this weekend, substituting once more for Robin Frijns.

With WTCR race winner Nathaniel Berthon additionally exiting Audi’s manufacturing unit roster, the German producer is left with Christopher Haase, Ricardo Feller and Christopher Mies because the best-known drivers in its line-up.

Frank Stippler, Frederic Vervisch, Markus Winkelhock, Patric Niederhauser, Pierre Kaffer, Mattia Drudi, Gilles Magnus, Luca Engstler and Dennis Marschall are additionally retained.

Nevertheless, it has bolstered its crew with the addition of Simon Gachet and Max Hofer, taking the whole depend of manufacturing unit drivers to 14. 

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