The tight and twisty Norisring is a hard track to master, as South African triple Audi Sport TT Cup winner Sheldon van der Linde discovered on his first visit to the uncompromising German street circuit over the past weekend. Sheldon was immediately on the pace and qualified third and second for the two races before becoming a little too well acquainted with the hard Noris wall — brushing it en route to third in race 1 before hitting it hard enough to retire from the second heat.
Sheldon van der Linde

Image courtesy Audi Communications Motorsport

“No words can describe my disappointment right now,” a gutted van der Linde admitted following his second race shunt. “Most importantly walked away from a big one. “Sorry guys!”

The weekend had started far better for the Dainfern double-SA Polo Cup champion who topped his first-ever practice session at the Nürnberg circuit that saw the top three separated by less than a tenth of a second, before he qualified third for the first heat and second for the second race. “I was very happy with that on my debut at Norisring — I was looking forward to fighting for the win.”

The races however proved a little more difficult than Sheldon may have expected. He had a great start to move up to second behind championship rival Dennis Marshal in the first race before guest driver and FIA Formula E championship leader Lucas di Grassi understeered into van der Linde on the exit of the last corner. “I hit the wall as a result,” Sheldon rued after nursing his Audi TT home in third. “It was unfortunate but I was able to limit the damage to my campaign to score my fourth podium in five races.”

The second race was however one Sheldon will want to forget after he slid into the wall to retire early in the race. “There was nothing I could do — from the moment I turned in, I was a passenger on cold tyres with zero run-off,” Sheldon explained about the shunt that cost him his championship lead. But he is more than determined to strike right back.

“That wasn’t the weekend I had hoped for,” Sheldon confessed. “Thanks to my fans and backers for all their support — we win and lose together — it’s moments like these that make you stronger and I’m now more than motivated to bounce back stronger than ever. “ I’m looking forward to do just that at Zandvoort in 2 weeks time.”

Lucas di Grassi leads Dennis Marschall

Image courtesy Audi Communications Motorsport

While van der Linde did not have a great weekend, the German Dennis Marschall and Joonas Lappalainen from Finland shared the championship wins. Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi was the first to cross the finish line in race two on Sunday and secured first place among the guest drivers in both rounds.