Haryanto and Martono, the pride of Indonesia

4.9 mins

This is undoubtedly a golden age for Indonesian motorsports.

A year ago, Rio Haryanto created history by becoming the first driver from the Republic to compete in Formula One.

In that same year, Presley Martono was on the way to becoming the inaugural champion of the FIA Formula 4 Southeast Asia (F4 SEA) Championship.

Along the way, MERITUS.GP played a role in their achievements as 16-year-old Haryanto burst into prominence when he won the Formula BMW Pacific while driving for MERITUS.GP in 2009.

Formula BMW Pacific, the successor to Formula BMW Asia, was intended to function as the young kart racing graduate’s first experience of car racing.

Having dominated his rivals in karting, it was only natural for Haryanto to continue his success in single seater formula racing.

Partnering Haryanto that year was another Indonesia, Dustin Sofyan.

Both were touted as potential champions but it was Haryanto who consistently posted the fastest times in pre-season.

He continuously upped the ante when it came to pacing and when the season began he was off like a gunshot, placing second in the first race and winning the second race in the championship opener, which was a support race of that year’s Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix.

Racing in front of hundreds of thousands of motorsport fans further fuelled Haryanto’s dreams of one day racing in F1.

That season ended in glory for Haryanto as he won the driver’s championship by collecting maximum points in 11 of the 15 races. Haryanto and Sofyan also helped MERITUS.GP to the constructor’s title.

A superb Indonesian double and an indication of what was to follow.

Following drives in GP2 and GP3, Haryanto finally got the call he was waiting for in February 2016 when Manor Racing confirmed him as their F1 driver.

Haryanto enjoyed a mix season in F1 and his championship was cut short after 12 Grands Prix. Far from being bitter, Haryanto is working on getting back to Formula One via Formula E.

Last month he tested in Valencia and told autosport.com: “The championship has grown really rapidly. It’s getting big now, more manufacturers are coming.
“It’s the future of motorsport and I hope one day to get a drive here and do the best job I can.“Formula 1 has always been the target and it feels like it is unfinished business to not do a full season.
“I’m still looking if there’s any possibility to find a way back there.”

Martono, meanwhile, is quickly following in Haryanto’s footsteps.

After winning six karting titles, the Jakarta native adapted very quickly to F4 SEA.

He was one of the six event champions — each event in F4 SEA consists of six races — and a champion is crowned at each venue.

But, not satisfied with just the event title, the 16-year-old clinched the overall title when he accumulated 565 points, just two ahead of New Zealand’s Faine Kahia.

He was also the Rookie champion and MERITUS Awards Gala – Indonesian rising star.

Upon winning the Formula 4 SEA championship, Martono was selected by Lincolnshire-based Mark Burdett Motorsport (MBM) as one of their drivers in the Formula Renault Eurocup series.

The championship is run across 10 European circuits, one of which includes the famous Monte Carlo F1 street circuit.

It was a steep learning curve but one the Indonesian has taken in his stride.

Next weekend, Martono returns to F4 SEA when the championship returns to Sentul International Circuit.

Don’t be surprised if he leaves his rivals in the shade.