Former Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen will spearhead Erebus Motorsport’s first foray into Asian GT racing next month.
As previously reported, Erebus has been plotting a move into the Asian region for some time, electing to forgo the final rounds of this year’s Australian GT Championship while preparing for its Chinese adventure.
Hakkinen will pair with 17-year-old Hong Kong driver Matthew Solomon in Erebus’ lead Mercedes-Benz SLS GT3 entry at the Zhuhai, China, round of the GT Asia season on October 11-13.
The team’s second SLS will be campaigned by experienced AMG Customer Sports driver Lance David Arnold, who raced alongside Hakkinen in the Finn’s previous visit to Zhuhai two years ago.
Erebus will also compete in the final round of the GT Asia season at the famed Macau Grand Prix Circuit in November.
Led by Erebus Motorsport general manager Barry Ryan, the team use the majority of its Australian crew for the events.
“It’s been a huge effort to get everything together to this point,” said Ryan, who flew to Belgium earlier this year to gain international experience with fellow Mercedes customer team Black Falcon in the Spa 24 Hours.
“The whole team is excited to be taking this next step to be working with a globally recognised talent such as Mika Hakkinen and also a young up and coming Chinese driver in Matthew Solomon.
“To be doing it in China, such an important market for AMG, makes it even more special.
“We’re confident that we can give him (Mika) a fantastic racecar with a little bit of Australian ingenuity.”
Winner of the F1 title in 1998 and 1999 driving Mercedes-powered McLarens, Hakinnen is a long-time Mercedes-Benz ambassador.
The now 44-year-old Finn retired from full-time racing at the completion of his third DTM season with McLaren in 2007, and has made only occasional racing appearances since.
“It is great to be heading back to Zhuhai and racing an SLS AMG GT3,” Hakkinen said.
“I was there (Zhuhai) a few years ago and the result didn’t work out the way that I wanted, but we will be going 100 percent flatout this time to get a good result.”
The October 11-13 weekend will be a landmark one for Erebus, with its V8 Supercars outfit making its first Bathurst 1000 appearance while the GT races are unfolding in China.