KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 — He started out modifying cars to race but years of hard work landed him a job with a Formula 3 racing team.
Muhammad Iqbal, 26, Lahad Datu also gained fame when he participated in a track race competition called Super GG Track Day at the Sepang International Circuit using a first-generation 4-speed Perodua Kancil in 2017.
Iqbal said that he initially bought the car to be used as a mode of transport for work but due to his love for motorsport, he decided to use his Kancil to enter the race.
In preparing for the race, Iqbal overhauled his Kancil’s 660-carburettor engine while also taking out the front and back passenger’s seats along with its carpets to make way for the roll cage as it is part of the safety requirement to enter the race.
The Selangor’s Otomotif College graduate told Malay Mail that he fell in love with motorsports when he was a child and he’s now working as the number one Formula 3 mechanic under an Australian-owned racing team, Evans GP, based in the United Arab Emirates.
“I started as a regular mechanic where I would work with normal vehicles at first. Then Alhamdulillah, I received a job offer from Meritus.GP who has a Formula 4 team in Malaysia.
“I was with them for more than three years, working on their Formula 4 machinery.
“It was after my time with Meritus.GP when I got the offer to work for Formula 3,” Iqbal said.
Although working professionally in motorsports was a dream come true for Iqbal, however his journey is far from over as Iqbal is aiming to become a professional racer one day.
Iqbal started to get involved in professional motorsports at the age of 19 where he would often participate in track races using his Proton Savvy which was modified with a Starlet 1.3 turbo engine.
The Proton Savvy was also his first track car.
According to Iqbal, amongst the challenges he faced during his ‘Kancil’ race was having a faulty braking system as his booster brakes or Servo was not working at that time.
Although his Kancil was not the best in terms of top speed however, Iqbal highlighted that the locally produced car was easy to control and could tailgate and overtake other cars when it came to corners.
“If you watched one of my past viral videos, this Kancil has managed to follow a Honda Civic 2.0 Type R closely at the seventh and eight turns of the Sepang Circuit.
“The Civic however was driven by a rookie driver at that time,” he said.
At the moment, Iqbal is taking a break from racing as he wants to focus on his wife and his two young children.
He also revealed that he already has plans to work on a future project where he is transforming his Suzuki Swift to be track ready.
“However, the cost is still too high for me. I might need a sponsor and backing from the public to support this project,” Iqbal said.