Indonesia’s first Formula 1 driver, Rio Haryanto, will make his debut behind the wheel of an Audi race car at the inaugural SIC888 at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 7. The former Manor Racing star joins Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT3 leader Andrew Haryanto and GT4 front-runner Anderson Tanoto to create an intriguing Indonesian super team, entered by Absolute Racing. The trio will race Tanoto’s Audi R8 LMS GT4 in the 888km endurance race.
The SIC888 endurance event is an invitational race on the 2018 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup calendar, with rounds seven and eight of the one-make series also taking place over the weekend in support.
Rio Haryanto commented, “I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel, it should be a fun race! It is my first GT endurance race and I have good memories from Shanghai from when I competed in F1.”
Reforming the Absolute Racing driver squad that impressively debuted at the Suzuka 10 Hours at the end of August, rising privateer talent and Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup star Sun Jingzu is joined by Cup mentors and official Audi Sport Asia drivers Cheng Congfu and Adderly Fong behind the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS GT3 for the SIC888.
A second Audi R8 LMS GT3 entry is an all-Thai crew headed by Cup star Bhurit Bhirombhakdi. Bhirombhakdi, currently second in the Cup’s GT3 standings, will be joined behind the wheel of the Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing machine by brother Piti Bhirombhakdi and Kantasak Kusiri, with whom Bhurit has shared driving duties earlier this year to race-winning effect in the GT Asia Series.
“We are delighted to welcome Rio Haryanto to the Audi Sport customer racing family,” said Martin Kuehl, Director of Audi Sport customer racing Asia. “As Indonesia’s first Formula 1 driver, and having built his career across the race tracks of Asia, it is a privilege to have Rio amongst the strong Audi line-up for the first-ever SIC888, together with our Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup regulars Anderson Tanoto and Andrew Haryanto.”
Rio Haryanto, 25, began his career in Asian junior single seater competition, honing his skills in the region and earning both race wins and championship titles. He graduated to GP3 in 2010, before breaking through to GP2 just two years later, finishing fourth in the championship in 2015. Formula 1 beckoned, and he made his debut at the 2016 Australian Grand Prix with Manor Racing. Rio contested 12 grands prix, and his achievements have inspired a whole new generation of drivers both at home in Indonesia and across Asia.
More Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup regulars are formulating their entries for the SIC888, which will be announced in the coming days.
Qualifying for the SIC888 takes place at 16:30 on Saturday, October 6, with the race starting at 10:30 on Sunday (all times UTC +8). The entered Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup drivers automatically earn 10 points towards their respective championship campaigns – points which could well prove crucial in a series where the top three GT3 contenders are separated by just 33 points, with four Cup races remaining.
The Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup Shanghai weekend gets under way with qualifying for rounds seven and eight starting at 16:30 on Thursday, October 4, with two, 15-minute sessions. Round seven roars off the grid at 10:35 on Friday, October 5, with round eight the following day at 13:15 (all times UTC +8).