Set pulses racing

He has to ensure he is physically healthy and his mind remains agile and sharp on track — Sunpix by Asyraf Rasid
Isyraf Danish is chasing his dreams — Sunpix by Asyraf Rasid
Isyraf Danish — Sunpix by Asyraf Rasid

IN 1998, Isyraf Danish and his father stood under the shades of oil palm trees at the Sepang International Circuit to watch his first Formula One race.

After watching the race, he begged his parents for a motorbike and a year later, his father got him a "mini bike" which he rode for a year until his mother thought it was too dangerous for him.

They then went to Sepang Go Kart Circuit in PLUS Speedway to drive go-karts which Isyraf didn't enjoy because he felt it was too slow for him. His parents then got him a cadet kart and a suit which he didn't want to take off; he was six.

At the age of 12, he got an upgrade to a junior kart which was more suitable for his age and he would spend every other weekend driving.

At the end of 2015, Isyraf went for a test drive in a single-seat Formula BMW at the Sepang International Circuit and achieved outstanding results. This made him decide to join the Formula 4 South East Asia Championship which was coincidentally being introduced for the first time in Asia by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile).

"The most exciting experience in the early stage was being the youngest F4 driver. I did not have any experience and I had to compete with experienced drivers from all over the world. However I overcame that by having high spirits, learning from my coach as well as the engineers, and giving my utmost concentration while on track," he said.

Tell us your achievements.

I placed second in the Formula 4 South East Asia Championship 2016 at Sentul International Circuit, Indonesia, recorded the fastest time at Chang International Circuit, Thailand, and was the fastest driver in Event 6 at Sepang International Circuit (which ended on Jan 22). I also received the Petron Star Driver Award and obtained five points for the FIA Super Licence – these achievements lifted my spirits and pushed me to pursue my dreams.

What did you learn from your experiences?

I learned to be consistent and not make the same mistake twice. When I first started, my learning process was between the third and fourth lap but I learned from it and now I am more prepared. I feel my experiences build character. I used to be very shy but now I can communicate with others and learn from them. I am also more confident, I smile a lot, and let the past be the past and move forward.

What are the challenges you face?

One of the biggest challenges is to ensure I am healthy physically, and my mind remains agile and sharp on track. I often go to the gym to lift weights and do cardio. Outside of the track, I play racing games on PS4 and simulators to help keep my mind sharp.

Tell us the best advice you have received.

I wouldn't be where I am without my parents and their advice has always stuck with me. One of the words of encouragement my dad gave me was to "finish first" and my mother constantly reminds me that it is important to care for their feelings, to always get their blessing, and to always remember God.

What is your target?

I hope to compete in the Formula Master Series and Formula 4 South East Asia Championship this year, and move on to Formula 3 European Championship 2018 and finally race in Formula One 2020 when I am 19.