Sentul Takes On Ferrari’s Asia Challenge

MARCH 11, 2015

For Indonesian racing buffs, the screech of tires burning on the asphalt, or the scream of the finely tuned engine of a race car going down the track are sounds more likely seen on TV, or if felt firsthand, requires the added cost of a trip overseas.

Now, those drawn to the allure of the race track won’t have to make that extra effort, as the 2015 Ferrari Asia Pacific Challenge added the Sentul racetrack in Bogor, West Java to its list of vaunted racetracks, along with Shanghai, China, Sepang, Malaysia, and Shizuka, Japan.

Ferrari Jakarta will participate in the challenge for the third time, as its drivers Renaldi Hutasoit and David Tjiptobiantoro will represent the nation and take on rivals from Singapore, Japan, China, Australia and other countries from the Asia Pacific region.

Arie Christopher, chief executive of Citra Langgeng Otomotif, Ferrari’s official distributor in Indonesia, is certain that David and Renaldi’s participation in one of the leading events for well-heeled racing aficionados or “gentlemen drivers,” will raise Ferrari’s profile in Indonesia. “Ferrari Jakarta’s participation in the Ferrari Asia Challenge reflects our commitment to fulfill the dreams of Ferrari buffs who want to test our cars on a real racing circuit,” Arie said. “Our promotion of drivers like David and Renaldi, we also wish to show the world Indonesia’s promising talent by promoting drivers like David and Renaldi.”

The Ferrari Challenge is considered one of the most popular racing series of its, giving drivers of varying skills the chance to compete at their best. “Their vehicles, which in this case will be the Ferrari 458, lend themselves to the task. [The car] is lightweight, equivalent to a car with a 1,500 cc engine, making it fuel efficient. Yet its 4,500 cc engine gives it more power.”

The inclusion of Sentul in the Ferrari Challenge is also a breakthrough for the racetrack, which has been relegated to the background in international racing, though it was designed as part of the Formula 1 circuit at its inception 20 years ago.

“Sentul symbolizes the pride [of Indonesian automotive sports]. By proving that it meets international standards, it marks Indonesia’s readiness to enter the international racing circuit,” said Louis Colmache, head of Corse Clienti Asia Pacific at Ferrari. “Its conformation is still sound, as it was laid out for the F1. So with a bit of work, it didn’t take long for it to get FIA [International Automobile Association] approval, which is a good start.”

The Sentul race track is four kilometers in length and boasts 12 turns. Like other tracks of its kind, Sentul is a worthy challenge for any aspiring driver regardless of their skills.  “Like Sepang [Malaysia], the humidity in Sentul will definitely make it one of the most challenging tracks ever made. But like Ferrari’s more developed circuit [in Maranello, northern Italy], the limited space will pose more challenges,” said David. “For instance, I was able to reach a top speed of 290 km [per hour] in Maranello. But I wasn’t able to sustain it because of the all the turns.

David Tjiptobiantoro, Renaldi Hutasoit and Louis Colmache by a Ferrari 458 pic

“The challenge in any race is the same: to monitor the track, assess the ‘traffic’ or position of other racers, and not to lose momentum. But its a challenge I relish, especially as we enter the [professional] level,” said the 39-year-old, who was promoted to the top-tier Trofeo Pirelli class of the Ferrari Challenge competition. “Hazards, like the crashes I experienced in Italy and Dubai, are inherent in the sport, but they won’t stop me. Like any endeavor, its a team effort, and I couldn’t succeed without help from the technicians or Garuda Indonesia, my sponsor of three years.” For Renaldi, his experience of winning the 2011 Trofeo Pirelli class in Sepang left him no room for complacency, as he sought to garner more silverware.

“The Ferrari Challenge provides a pure racing environment and an exciting competition, because we can never underestimate our opponents. I hope to take part in more competitions in the near future as I’ve had a taste of victory and want more of it.”

Meanwhile, Colmache is certain that David and Renaldi’s exploits on the racetrack will encourage other Indonesian gentlemen drivers to follow their lead. Roadblocks in the form of funding and lack of training may slow the sport’s progress in the country for now. But the adrenaline rush of speed and glorious taste of victory when crossing the finish line will never diminish the unquenchable thrill of the race.