Indonesia has produced a number of successful race and rally drivers, but perhaps the most famous so far is the country’s first Formula 1 driver, Rio Haryanto. And no, they may share a surname but Cup leader Andrew Haryanto of ProMax Team is no relation.
However, they are both seriously quick on a race track.
Making an entrance
Andrew didn’t just arrive in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup, he burst upon it. Making his series debut on the notoriously difficult Adelaide Street Circuit at the 20th anniversary of the Adelaide 500, the affable Haryanto notched up a stunning debut race win, quickly followed by a third place in round two to lead the GT3 standings.
Complementing the professional mentor coaches provided by Cup organisers, on this occasion Adderly Fong and Cheng Congfu, was Absolute Racing’s championship-winning service team led by manager Michael Schneider, with the engineer assigned to the ProMax Team driver, Italian Nicola Sgotto. It proved a recipe for immediate and eyebrow-raising success.
“I learn progressively”
“Quick at learning new tracks? Not usually, no. I learn them progressively,” says Andrew. “I think about what I did, then talk to the engineers. Nicola especially has been a great help. He tells me what to do every single time, so I can learn after he analyses my data. I can’t learn by myself. I don’t have the time for that. He tells me what to do and I just tend to follow him. Basically, if you keep an open mind and listen to him, he has a lot of experience. The guys from Absolute Racing, they all have immense experience and we just try to learn from them.”
As well as wisely following Nicola’s expert instructions, Andrew also made a bee line for Cup coach Adderly Fong: “From the first day, I worked directly with Adderly. That was the first thing I needed to do. A pro mentor is always right there; you can measure your racing line against what the correct line should be, otherwise you’re just pretty lost. Without them, you don’t have a measure, a benchmark.”
Andrew’s fun-loving temperament and infectious laugh belie his steely determination. The whole Cup field, in particular the seasoned Adelaide Street Circuit veterans, learned this fast when Andrew set about improving session-on-session in Adelaide, before his opening win.
In the beginning
But how did this passionate privateer begin his affair with motorsport?
“It was in 2008,” he recalls. “I wanted to buy a Ford Focus; a normal road car. Then my cousin rang me up and said, “Hey, you get a 30% discount if you buy the car and you race the car”. Thirty percent discount is a lot! On $25,000, it’s around $8,000. I thought, why not? So I shared the racing with him. I did two or three and so did he. And we spent about 50 Euros for the whole year, just for one set of brake pads! We just drove the car from my home town [Jakarta], drove to the track [Sentul Circuit], went racing, and came back. I thought, racing’s quite cheap!”
“They made me take the sub-woofer out!”
It was this ingenious sale incentive scheme which got Andrew onto a race track for the first time, but it was very much racing at the grassroots level. Having driven his road-legal car to the track, he duly took the very same car to be scrutineered ahead of the race. “They made me take the sub-woofer out,” remembers Andrew, clearly still indignant at the memory. “I needed music! It’s a long drive from Jakarta to Sentul.”
Andrew continued racing at Sentul for a few more years before beginning the journey that would eventually see him make his impressive Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup debut in 2018. “I moved on to a 1.5 litre car,” he says. “In 2014, I did my first Lamborghini race. That was a big, huge step from 1.5 litre front wheel drive cars to a 5.2 litre car. I liked it though, I really liked it. I learned a lot. It was a fun car to drive.”
Up for new challenges
Having achieved notable success racing a Lamborghini, Andrew has now turned his attention to the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup; the new format and 2018 calendar proving a strong draw: “One of the reasons I joined the Cup is because I want to try new tracks,” he says. “I’m not so young anymore, so I really want to try different circuits.”
And first on the schedule of new race tracks was the notoriously unforgiving Adelaide, a pure street circuit: 3.2km of concrete wall-lined track with virtually no run-offs or gravel traps. Mistakes aren’t an option there, and finding the track limits a true test of guts. Demanding precision as well as no small amount of courage, Andrew was quickly up to speed, perhaps with a slight advantage as he had never driven the track any other way.
“I used the kerbs on the second corner and almost hit the wall”
“Since I began racing, I never used kerbs. This was the first weekend when they told me to use the kerbs. I used the kerbs on the second corner and almost hit the wall a couple of days ago,” he says, howling with laughter. “That’s the only kerb we’re taking I think, but I usually don’t take kerbs at all. For me, maybe it’s just a lucky coincidence that you’re not allowed to take the kerbs here if you want to go fast. It just suits me. You’ve really got to stay just beneath the limit here. Once you’re there, you know!”
Next up for the Andrew and his fellow Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup drivers is Germany’s Nürburgring, where the Cup will support the country’s famous 24 hour race in May, one of the most important GT events in the world.
Says Andrew: “I’m looking forward to the Nürburgring. It’s not my first time there. I’ve never raced there but I joined a driving course there eight years ago, so I did both the F1 track and the Nordschleife. We only did one day, but I think it should be easier than having concrete walls either side [like Adelaide].”
One day is an awful lot more than he had had when he arrived in Adelaide, and it’ll be fascinating to see how this quietly determined driver fares at the home of Audi for rounds three and four.