HARDER. BETTER. FASTER. VIVIEN.

"LAST YEAR ON THE SALZBURGRING CIRCUIT, I ROLLED THE CAR EIGHT TIMES. AT THE VERY NEXT RACE A WEEK LATER, I WON."

Karting was never her thing. At the tender age of 12, Vivien saw her first motor race. By 13, she was already lining up at the start. At 14, she took third place in the overall rankings at the Salzburgring racetrack despite rolling the car eight times. Now 15 years old, Vivien Keszthelyi finds it “pretty weird” that she’s still not  allowed to drive on public roads. But she takes comfort that her parents are behind her every step of the way and at least on the track she can really put the pedal to the metal. This year, she’ll be contesting the Hungarian touring car championships in her Audi TT cup, going head to head with Lamborghinis. Thanks to the Audi Sport racing academy, she’s confident that by being “faster through the corners,” she’ll make it onto the podium.

“VIVIEN SURPRISED ME THE MOST. SHE’S ONLY 15 BUT UNBELIEVABLY SMART AND TOTALLY COOL — SHE HAS THE AUDI TT CUP FIRMLY WITHIN HER GRASP.”

Sepp Haider, head of Audi race experience.

“AT MY FIRST RACE, I WAS THE ONLY GIRL AMONG ALL THESE MEN. IT FELT A BIT ODD. IN THE END, I CAME FOURTH AND THAT’S WHEN I KNEW — THIS IS JUST MY THING.”

   

AUDI SPORT RACING ACADEMY

This is where today’s young talent is being molded into tomorrow’s bona fide racing drivers. The process of selecting the most promising young guns involves assessments and tests overseen by a jury including Sepp Haider, head of Audi race experience, Dirk Spohr, Audi Sport customer racing, plus sports car pilot Pierre Kaffer. The training program covers basic aerodynamics and driving physics, personal fitness as well as how to deal with the media and sponsors. Naturally, the practical side of things is taken care of with plenty of time behind the wheel — tackling icy surfaces as well as taking test drives at the Audi driving experience center in Neuburg an der Donau and on racetracks. Alongside Vivien Keszthelyi, the academy’s first intake comprises 17-year-old South African Sheldon van der Linde and Nicklas Nielsen from Denmark. Racing runs in the van der Linde family. Sheldon entered his first kart race at the age of five and won the South African Junior Championships at nine. Over the last two years, he has dominated the national VW Polo Cup. In the medium term, he aims to use the Audi TT Cup as a springboard to get where his brother Kelvin already is — in the cockpit of an Audi R8 LMS. Nineteen-year-old Nicklas Nielsen has no fewer than 16 years’ karting experience under his belt and has won the WSK Euro Series and  the WSK Champions Cup. Both van der Linde and Nielsen will already be entering the Audi Sport TT Cup this year — the Audi Sport brand cup that forms part of the DTM ancillary program. Due to her tender age, Vivien Keszthelyi will only be participating in national races in Hungary — at least for now.

Daniel Schröder & Benne Ochs (photos), Stefanie Klopf (styling), Agnesha Kollien (hair/make-up), Primate (post production)

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