It is clear from the outset that Nabil Jeffri loves life in the fast lane.
He was just a little boy when he was exposed to the world of motor racing.
“I first got involved with race car driving back in the year 2000, when I was seven years old. My dad brought me to a track that was 10 minutes from home, called Speedtrack at Sungai Penchala (in Selangor), which was managed by Mofaz back then,” says Nabil, who will be 25 in October.
He started off with go-karting and in 2004, at the age of 10, he won the Asian Kart Open Championship.
Five years later, he clinched the Malaysian Rotax Max Junior championship title. He also finished 6th in the 2009 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals – the world’s most prestigious kart-racing series – in Egypt.
In 2010, at age 17, he was named National Youth Icon by the Youth and Sports Ministry.
He remembers how tough it was during his A-levels. “It was hard to balance my studies and racing at the time, but I managed to get considerably good results despite that. After that, I focused completely on racing up till today,” says this straight-A student.
“Racing has taught me to be efficient in managing my time. How you manage the 24 hours you have in a day makes all the difference, and I feel that’s what sets you apart from the average guy. Since training required three to four hours of my time daily, on top of school and everything else, it was all about time management,” says the young racer.
Also in 2010, Nabil joined the AirAsia Asean Driver Development Programme and stepped up to Formula BMW Pacific, racing for Eurasia Motorsport.
The same year, he made history when he became the youngest ever Formula One test driver, after his pivotal aerodynamic test drive for the Lotus Racing Formula One team at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, England.
“Being the youngest F1 test driver in the world was the best thing that could ever happen to me,” he says excitedly.
He was chosen to be in the Petronas Talent Development Programme in 2013, and competed in the ATS Formel 3 Cup under Team Eurointernational.
In 2012, he ranked 2nd Overall Champion in the JK Racing Asia Series.
Scoring an unprecedented two wins and 16 podium finishes, Nabil was crowned 2nd Overall Champion in ATS German Formula 3 Championship in 2014.
Nabil undergoes vigorous training – usually twice a day. “Typically, it starts with a cardio session in the morning, which is a 100km bike ride or a 20km-30km run. In the evening, I’ll be at the gym for my strength and core session, focusing on my neck, since we hit about 4G-5G force around corners,” he describes.
Racing around the world
His racing has taken him to far-flung places such as Azerbaijan (for the GP2 Series 2016), the Netherlands (FIA Formula 3 European Championship 2015) and Spain (FIA Formula 2 Championship 2017).
“I’ve raced in almost all European countries except for Greece and Bulgaria. My favourite would be Monaco when the whole city comes alive every F1 weekend. It’s a very special race.”
Spectators of a motor race get a huge adrenalin rush just watching a race but, for the racers, it is a very gruelling test of endurance.
On Feb 4, he raced at the 4 Hours Of Sepang, in the Asian Le Mans Series 2017/18, where he finished third. Just last month, he competed in the World Endurance Champion-ship (WEC) 6 Hours Of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. And last week, Nabil was in France for the 24 Hours Of Le Mans.
“My passion and love for sports keeps me going. Racing is also a very challenging sport – and I’ve always loved a good challenge!” says Nabil enthusiastically.
He also credits his parents, who are business people, for his success. “They fully support my passion for racing. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”
For his outstanding performance through the years and worldwide recognition, he has been appointed Malaysia’s first face of the AMG brand in conjunction with the launch of the locally assembled Mercedes-AMG C 43 and GLC 43.
He is also the official ambassador for Nike Malaysia.
Nabil – together with Weiron Tan, 23, and Jazeman Jaafar, 25 – is part of the winning Jackie Chan DC Racing X Jota Sport team. Just last month, they debuted in the world’s most prestigious endurance racing championship, the FIA WEC. The boys will compete in the 2018/19 FIA WEC Super Season.
Colombian racing driver Juan Pablo Montoya is his inspiration, he says, and then adds, “I will be racing alongside him this year in Le Mans 24, the biggest race in the calendar for WEC 2018/19.”
Between races, and when he’s in the country, he finds the time to be a unit trust consultant. “I enjoy helping people grow their investments and personal wealth,” he says.
For leisure, Nabil enjoys travelling, endurance cycling, mountain biking, fitness training, football and the Ironman challenge. “All things sports and active!” he quips.