Quick Chat with Andrie Hartanto, MPTCC and GTA driver

24 Apr

As I posted on my blog yesterday, I am going to begin featuring interviews and behind the scenes commentary and info about two of my favorite racing series: the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championships and Global Time Attack.

The first driver I’ve had the opportunity to ask a few questions of is Andrie Hartanto, driver of the Prima Racing/TunerPlayground.com Acura TSX (MPTCC Tuner Under).  I’ve been trying to get Andrie involved in events that I’ve been organizing for the last few years, but it never really worked out. He had been focusing much of his efforts on Honda Challenge, World Challenge and other race series. However, now that the MPTCC is beginning to gain traction under the leadership of Mike Kojima, it’s making more sense for a team like Prima Racing to give the series a serious look.

I sent Andrie an email the day after he had earned his first MPTCC class victory at Buttonwillow Raceway, and the following is our dialogue…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Name:  Prima Racing
Sponsors: Supertech Performance, Wicked Tuning, Carbotech Brakes, Rota Wheels, CT Engineering, Stitch Tech Designs, Tunerplayground.com
Vehicle Make and Model:  Acura TSX
Tires:  Hankook Ventus C51

Nikolas: Congratulations on the strong showing this past weekend at Buttonwillow! Is there anyone in particular you want to give any thanks to, for helping you succeed?

Andrie: Thanks to all of my partners & sponsors for supporting me over the years.  My crew chief, and the rest of my team. Without them, none of this would be possible.

N: This was your first race in the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championships, but certainly not your first race. Where did you get your start racing, and how long have you been racing?

A: I’ve always liked cars.  It was a natural progression. I used to drive too fast for the street so when I was introduced to High Performance Driving Events, I became hooked.  From then on I worked towards my racing license and raced in my first wheel to wheel event in an E30 BMW M3 back in the year 2000.

 

N: For many of the folks who may not be familiar with the various series you’ve raced in, what are some of your more memorable accomplishments in racing?

A:  My most memorable accomplishment is when I won NASA Honda Challenge Nationals in 2006.  We won it in a dominant fashion, clearing the field and simultaneously breaking the track record during our first weekend at Mid Ohio.  

 
Next to that was in 2007.  I finished inside the top ten during the Speed World Challenge race at Laguna Seca in the Touring Car class.  At that time, the series was in its heyday and consisted of many manufacturer teams. We finished ahead of some of the manufacturer-supported teams, and also as the highest placed privateer.  It was one of the toughest races I’ve ever competed in. I felt like David going up against Goliath.
N: After a strong qualifying for pole on Saturday, and leading nearly all of the race, can you explain what happened with the car that made it difficult to hold of Edo Stepanyan?
A:   We knew that we were racing a heavy car and the limiting factor were the tires, especially in the blistering heat. The rules for MPTCC is based on weight to power ratio.  Weight to power ratio works for Drag Racing, because it only accounts for acceleration.  In road racing we are involved in turning and braking where the lighter cars will always out maneuver the heavier cars – given the same tire size.  MPTCC limits the tires for TU regardless of the weight of the car to 245/40/17.

 
I was planning to get up front and maintain the pace to keep me securely in the lead and managing my tires. Unfortunately this plan backfired when my rear anti roll bar mount ripped out of the subframe just 3 laps in.  The car started to push heavily and it overworked the front tire even more.  The last 2 laps the car was so hard to control because I used up the front tires (they actually corded), and I couldn’t defend my position further and lost the lead on the last lap.  Such is racing though, and my hats off to Edo whom I’ve known for the longest time and consider to be a friend.
N: We understand the unseasonably warm weather and high ambient temps were creating trouble for many of the Global Time Attack competitors who were at Buttonwillow as well. Did the heat affect you and the car in any way you weren’t expecting?
A:  The heat definitely affected me more than the car.  I was pulling double duty (also driving our time attack S2000).  Oftentimes we had to sit inside the car for extended periods of time on the grid. It was easily 130 degrees when you are in your race suit, under the helmet, and in a car without any moving air.  It was torture and I think I lost about 10 lbs of weight that weekend.
N:  We know the field was fairly light on cars for this opening event. However, we’re expecting a field of up to 15 cars in Tuner Under at Auto Club Speedway, including the defending Series Champion, Dai Yoshihara. What will you and the team do to prepare for the extra competition?
A:  Right now our plan for the Auto Club Speedway event is still tentative.  We are short on funding and still soliciting funds. We are enthusiastic about our chances and showing people what our team can do though.
N:  Auto Club Speedway is a vastly different track compared to Buttonwillow. Is there anything that you need to change to the car to adjust to those differences?
A:  Auto Club Speedway is a track that rewards power.  That should not matter though, because of the MPTCC rules about power to weight ratio meaning that every car should have the same acceleration rate.  But then again, on the infield where there is lots of turning and braking, the lighter cars will prevail.  Given that our car is one of the heaviest cars in the field, we are a little concerned.  However, we are confident of our ability and we will come with strong game plan.
N: You and Edo come out of this weekend tied for the points lead in Tuner Under, having each secured a 1st and a 2nd place finish. With six races left in the year, is there a strategy that you and the team will follow? Will you play it conservative, or will you be aggressive?
A:I learned that I will have to be conservative with my equipment and aggressive with my attack. From now on I will build a sizable gap that will give me a cushion if something happens during the race.
N:  I know I’m not only speaking for myself when I say this, but I am very happy to see you involved in the MPTCC this year! I’m looking forward to the remaining races this year and the eventual battles between you and the other top drivers. Do you have any parting comments for fans yours and the MPTCC?
A:

Thank you! The pleasure is all mine. Look for our team and keep up to date by visiting our website at www.prima-racing.com and my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrie-Hartanto/207988749230649
 
If you see us on the track, don’t hesitate to say hi or check out our cars.  We are car people first!
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