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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Rio Haryanto

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass featuring Rio Haryanto…

Photo: Rio Haryanto

Former Manor Formula 1 driver Rio Haryanto has found his home in sports car racing over the last year.

Haryanto returned to full-time racing in 2019 in GT World Challenge Asia sharing a T2 Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3 with David Tjiptobiantoro and occasionally team manager Gregory Teo in the six-round series.

It came after a spell away from motorsports after he exited Formula 1 at the end of 2016, with the Indonesian driver leaving it until 2019 to get back behind the wheel full-time.

In his debut season, Haryanto scored a single podium in GT World Challenge Asia at Thailand and ended out the series 31st in the drivers’ standings.

The 26-year old has extended his GT racing program with the team participating in the 2019-2020 Asian Le Mans Series in identical machinery.

What are your reflections on GT World Challenge Asia last season?

“I think last year, my first year returning from Formula 1 back in 2016, so since then, I didn’t really get a chance to find an opportunity to go back racing again until last year.

“I got an offer from T2 Motorsports with David Tjiptobiantoro and it feels great to be back racing again.

“Of course it’s a completely different series, completely different car; there’s a lot more to explore and learn from endurance racing because we have two drivers and we have to work together as a team.

“I’ve learned a lot definitely, we’ve had up and downs, we only managed to get on the podium in Thailand; it was interesting, it was quite tough but also challenging in a way.”

GT machinery is a very different discipline to open-wheelers; what are some of the main improvements you found in yourself adapting to the new style?

“To learn the behavior of the car mainly because with the single-seater you find there’s a lot of downforces; the faster you go the more aero you feel and you can really get the speed around the corner.

“In GT cars the car is a lot heavier and there’s a lot more body roll, so I had to change my driving style a lot throughout the season and I’m happy to still keeping going and do another season of GT cars in the Asian Le Mans Series.”

Do you feel like you’ve settled into tin-top racing and GT racing well?

“Yeah, so far I’m still improving; maybe I’m not on top of the game yet, there’s a lot of very experienced drivers around here, especially the other cars from AF Corse and the other teams as well.

“Just need a bit more time to adapt again and hopefully we can be back on top.”

As far as aspirations go, are you aiming for the 24 Hours of Le Mans?

“That’s the goal. As a team, we want to go to Le Mans and we’ll try to prepare as much as we can which is the reason why we are now doing Asian Le Mans.

“I’m just hoping we are ready for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”

Looking ahead to the upcoming year of racing, do you have a GT World Challenge Asia program locked in for this season?

“At the moment, no, not yet, but I’m looking at the options.”

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