Rio Haryanto will make his Formula 1 debut this year after being announced as Manor Racing’s second driver for the 2016 season.
Haryanto, 23, has raced in GP2 for the past four seasons, claiming three race wins in 2015 en route to fourth place in the final drivers’ standings.
Haryanto has enjoyed ties with the Manor operation dating back to 2010, but will now race for its F1 team after securing the financial backing required from the Indonesian government.
“Manor Racing is a team with an exciting vision and ambitious plans. They have produced a great package and I can’t wait to get in the car,” Haryanto said.
“Melbourne will be a huge moment for me, my country, supporters and fans and I want to thank everyone who’s been with me since I started in single seaters; 2016 is my chance to reward that faith and represent Asia in F1.”
Manor team owner Stephen Fitzpatrick was impressed by Haryanto’s efforts in GP2 last year, and feels that he will be able to carry this form over to F1 in 2016 when racing alongside fellow rookie Pascal Wehrlein.
“We are delighted to announce Rio as our second race driver for 2016,” Fitzpatrick said.
“He’s tenacious on and off the track and made a big impression on last year’s GP2 battle. Rio’s huge following in Indonesia is great for the team and for F1.
“They are keen to see him on the grid and we’re confident that we’ll see him enjoying some exciting battles in the year ahead.”
Haryanto’s confirmation completes the grid for the 2016 F1 season, four days before the beginning of pre-season testing in Barcelona.
It also leaves American driver Alexander Rossi out in the cold for the new season. Rossi made a significant impression in his first five races with Manor last year and was confident of staying, but is now without a drive.
The same is true of Britain’s Will Stevens, who raced throughout 2015 for Manor. However, he has been linked with a reserve role at Williams.
Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.
There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.
Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.
Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.
By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.
With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.
This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit. Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome in 1974. Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.
Two privateers have started the season on a high note.
Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.
The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.
Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.
In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.