Exclusive interview with e-motorsport racer Iqbal Suji

We spoke to the Malaysian Toyota GR Velocity Champion.

The Toyota GR GT Cup Asia returns on October 9, 2022 with 21 racers from 7 teams competing for a chance to represent Asia in the GR GT Cup Global Final 2022 this November.

The stakes have never been higher, with the GR GT Cup Global Final returning as a live tournament for the first time since 2019, and held in Monaco, a city steeped in racing history and tradition.

The competition is sure to be fierce, and racers will have to be at their very best to contend for the position.

Amongst the 21 best racers competing in the upcoming Toyota GR GT Cup Asia 2022, watch out for Malaysian racer, Iqbal Suji. A familiar name to the competition, placing seventh in last year’s competition, and fourth in 2020, Iqbal has been on fire this year, winning the Malaysia Toyota GR Velocity Championship in convincing style.

We caught up with Iqbal to ask him about this year’s competition, how he’s preparing for the tournament, and what his plans are going forward.

Getting started in e-Racing

A love for sim racing is often coupled with a love for real-life motorsport, and that certainly rings true for Iqbal. “I was always fascinated with Formula 1 when my dad watched it on TV,” he said, “that spark turned into a flame when I kept playing racing games on a controller until I got my own racing rig a few years back. After that, the rest is history.”

For many, sim racing is a great, accessible alternative to real car racing and an opportunity to live out dreams they may not otherwise have been able to. Iqbal is no different, sharing that “getting into a proper racing car is one of my biggest aspirations, but the local landscape isn’t too diverse so I’m trying to find ways to get in.”

Iqbal has seen marked success in 2022, winning the Malaysia national finals, all while balancing grueling practice hours and his final year of studies.

For aspiring new racers, Iqbal advises, “Always remember that there is always someone faster than you and to keep pushing yourself past your limits, even when others believe it is not possible”.

Preparing for GR GT Cup Asia 2022: new platform, new cars, new tracks

A new platform for Toyota GR GT Cup Asia 2022 also poses a new challenge: this year, all racers will compete on Gran Turismo 7, instead of Gran Turismo Sport as in previous years. Iqbal, however, isn’t worried, saying, “Yes, physics-wise, there is a new hurdle to overcome and conquer, but otherwise, it’s just practice, practice, and more practice. The more laps you put in, the better you will be.”

Fortunately, for Iqbal, who is also a full-time student, the timing for this year’s tournament has been perfect and he’s been able to put that practice in. “It’s been good since I’m on my holidays now, so I can train from two to four hours daily, depending on how satisfied I am with the training on the day itself. I’ve been practicing the combos to be familiar with any situation I might come across.”

This year, Iqbal expects the fight at the front to be fierce. “Previously, there were those that were a clear cut above the rest, but everyone has upped their game”. Iqbal also singled out two of Thailand’s strongest competitors, last year’s winner, Nathayos Sirigaya, and Thanaphat Phungpat as two rivals he’ll be looking out for. “We’ve stumbled upon each other a few times and their pace is not to be slept on”.

As with last year’s tournament, the competitors will once again be driving a range of Toyota GR cars. Racers will need to prove their versatility with models ranging from the road-going GR Supra, all the way up to the new GR010 Hybrid, which couldn’t be further apart in terms of approach and technique. However, Iqbal is up for the challenge, sharing that “the GR010 breeds a different DNA into the GR line-up. It requires the utmost concentration and dedication, and when everything strings together into a perfect lap, the euphoria of driving comes like a flash flood.”

For Iqbal, the chance to race in person against the best of the best at the GR GT Cup Global Final 2022 is a tantalizing prospect. “Every step to qualifying is already a very challenging prospect,” he said, adding that “I’ll be glad if I can make a good showing in Monaco.”

Catch Iqbal face off against Asia’s best GAZOO Racers at the Toyota GR GT Cup Asia 2022 on October 9, 2022. Click here to learn more about this year’s tournament.

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