PETALING JAYA: Youngster Muhammad Nabil Jan Al-Jefri will not get to share in the Hari Raya festivities with his family members at home next month.
But the 11-year-old boy will not be fretting either. He has set his sights on clinching the Asian Karting Open Championship title in Macau. The championship is scheduled for Nov 12-14.
Only into his second year of competitive karting, Muhammad Nabil has been blazing a hot streak in the formula cadet category of the championship and he is poised to win his first international title.
He has won five of the six races in three earlier rounds of the Asian Championships – in Malaysia, the Philippines and India. He now leads the standings with 112 points.
His nearest rival, Brandon Angel of the Philippines, has 65 points and the Malaysian will seal the title with one round to spare if he achieves a podium finish in the two races in Macau. The final round will be held in Indonesia from Dec 16-18.
Muhammad Nabil, who just celebrated his 11th birthday on Sunday, said that he did not mind not getting to celebrate Hari Raya at home.
“There is a good chance for me to take my first Asian title in Macau and I am really excited over it,” he said.
“Hari Raya might fall on the same days but it is okay if I have to race. I enjoy racing and I want to keep the cadet overall title in Malaysian hands.”
Muhammad Nabil bears some resemblance to F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya and there is no prize for guessing who he looks up to.
“I want to become like Montoya. Some say I look like him but I admire his style of driving.
“He is aggressive and I want to become like him,” said the student of the SRK Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
Muhammad Nabil was also crowned the overall champion of the Hot Wheels Rotax Max Challenge recently.
Calvin Wong has won the last two titles in the cadet category since the Asian Championships were launched in 2002. Calvin now competes in the junior category.
Drivers between the ages of eight and 12 years old compete in the cadet class with karts powered by 85cc engines.
Those between the ages of 12 and 16 years old compete in the junior class with karts powered by 125cc engines. The senior category is for karters above the age of 16 years old.
Although Muhammad Nabil drives a kart with a small-capacity engine, it is no child's play.
His father, Jefri Rashid, explained that it was common for karters like Muhammad Nabil to whiz around a fast track in an average speed of 90kmp.
“Karting is a good sport because it helps a child to think and make his own judgment,” he said.
While the costs can soar up to RM15,000 to get started in competitive karting, Jefri added that it had been money well spent.
“I saw the potential in him. After I realise he was serious into the sport, I bought him his own kart,” said Jefri.
“But it is crucial to get sponsors if one wants to take it up very competitively.”
Muhammad Nabil is one of the five promising karters who come under the Youth and Sports Ministry's motorsports programme. Malaysia Airlines help to chip in when it comes to the airfare.