Former Formula One (F1) driver Rio Haryanto is going back to the circuit this year by joining Indonesian-Singaporean team T2 Motorsports. Rio will be paired with racer David Tjiptobiantoro to compete at Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia 2019 and Asian Le Mans Series 2019/2020.
T2 Motorsports approached Rio to join the team last year. Previously, the 26-year-old racer from Solo had to stop racing for about two years due to the lack of financial support. Although he used to compete in an open wheel racing, Rio says he is 100% ready for the challenge to race in a closed wheel racing in early April.
“This is a challenge for me because in open wheel (racing), the aerodynamics are bigger compared to closed wheel (racing), which is more into mechanical works that influence the lap time,” he says in a press conference.
Rio says he faces big target and challenge ahead because the team sets a target to be qualified for the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans. The target requires them to finish as the champions of the Asian Le Mans Series. Rio and David will use Ferrari 488 GT3 for the two races. So far, the registered competitors for the race, among others, are McLaren 720S GT3, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo and Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The team will start practicing on April 3 that will be Rio’s first experience to drive with the new car. The first race of Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia will be held at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia on April 6-7. The next races will be held at Chang International Circuit in Thailand on May 11-12, Suzuka International Circuit in Japan on June 22-23, Fuji Speedway in Japan on July 6-7 and Korea International Circuit in South Korea on August 3-4. The last stop for the race will be held at Shanghai International Circuit in China on September 27-28.
Meanwhile for Asian Le Mans Series, the first race will be held at Shanghai International Circuit in China on November 22-24. Later it will be followed by races at The Bend in Australia on January 10-12, Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia on February 14-15, and will be finished at Buriram Chang International Circuit in Thailand on February 21-23.
“We are very confident to win these two championships and to get a slot at Le Mans 24 Hours,” David says.
David is the first Indonesian racer who competes at 24-hour race named Total 24 Hours Spa in 2018. He was placed at the fourth position in the AM Class of the race. Besides being a racer, David is also the founder of T2 Motorsports. T2 Motorsports Team Principal Irmawan Poedjoadi says Rio has brought new color and spirit to the team with his experience in the F1 races. Therefore, he is optimistic that combining Rio and David’s experiences will result to victory for the team.
“I believe we will bring the trophies home,” he says.