Kushan Peiris could be considered as the youngest driver to compete in the Class SL GT event at the age of 23 years.
By today Kushan has become a key contender in the Ford Laser/Mazda and Honda 1600cc events on his way to the main event, the Class SL GT.
He has earned the name of a key contender in the core motorsport segment among other top drivers for his canny and shrewd style of competition in the top event.
However unlike in 2017 and 2018, Kushan failed to reached a considerable level of competitiveness in 2019 in the Class SL GT event.
Here Kushan speaks of his unfortunate run in the main event and his aspirations for the 2020 motorsports season with Motorsports Network in an one-on-one interview.
Q: You failed to impress as a driver in 2019 unlike the past couple of years. What caused that setback?
A: Last season, for my drawback it could be highlighted as the failure in the technical aspect of my car. Time to time the machine caused technical problems and my technical assistants made a huge effort to rectify those, but mainly without a fruitful feedback. Last season luck was totally against me, and I missed two good opportunities at the Cavalry Supercross and Colombo Supercross. I was almost the champion in both those events and suddenly I was fully out of contention.
Q: Ashan Silva is considered as the top driver in Sri Lanka at present. How does that become a challenge to you?
A: Ashan Silva is undoubtly an asset to motorsports in Sri Lanka. He rose from the scratch, learning the trade from attending the German Technology Institution, installing his own garage and then gradually entering the racing scene with an Evolution III machine. By today he has proved his capability to the whole of Sri Lanka. I, as a youngster, has not witnessed that kind of commitment from any other driver in Sri Lanka. For that reason I do not consider him as a challenge, but as a blessing to compete alongside. As a race driver, I have a lot to learn from him, so there will be more to learn in the future. To be frank he is an inspiration to my career as a competitive driver.
Q: So far how many awards have you claimed and from which event?
A: I still have won the award for the Best Driver only thrice in my whole career. First, it was in 2016 at the Seethawaka Hill Climb, in which I competed in few events. I recorded my best timings in the Ford Laser/Mazda event. In 2017 I was able to claim the award for the Best Driver at the Kuda Oya Commando Supercross and the Sigiriya Rallycross.
Q: Have you competed at international level?
A: So far, I have contested at two international events and at both those incidents star driver Dilantha Malagamuwa came forward to help me immensely. The first event was in Indonesia and Sri Lanka Automobile Sports (SLAS) came forward to support me and Ushan Perera to represent Sri Lanka. Then I, Ashan, Kaushalya and Dilantha teamed up to compete in an endurance race in Abu Dhabi, where four of us for together to drive a car for six hours and finish off at 20th among 40 cars.
Q: What sort of experience did you gather from competing at the Ford Laser/Mazda events before stepping into the SL GT class?
A: I gained an immense load of knowledge by competing at the lower level before stepping into the highest level. It was a great platform to come step by step, gradually improving my status as a driver, learning the skills of controlling the car at a higher speed, maneuvering the car in a bend, managing the timing and keeping up to the line. I mainly have to credit the Ford Laser/Mazda event for helping me shape up for the next level.
Q: Your father and brothers are involved in local motorsports. Can you explain their involvements?
A: My father is a competitor since 1994 and I was born in 1996, which means that he is into motorsports even before I was born. After 2000, I saw him competing and I was heavily influenced by him. But he did not compete much in gravel events, he was a top contender at any event held in Katukurunda. I should easily mention that my father was my direct influence into motorsports, and as for my younger brother, he was a cricket fanatic ever since he was a kid. But after seeing our father compete, he too developed a liking for motorsports. But I suppose that my younger brother has surpassed my father and me for his age. At no stage has my father forced me or my brother to become winning drivers, he has always blessed us to drive sensibly as drivers.
Q: Recently it was witnessed that your mother too taking up the challenge as a driver. What’s her level of enthusiasm into motorsports?
A: When I entered motorsports, I was just 15 years-old. At that age many were concerned about my safety as a driver and my mother was the leader of that line. But with my father being involved, safety and accidents were just a mere topic in motorsports inside our home. Even my mother was convinced after some years, and I suppose that was why she even took the brave decision to try out as a racing driver.
Q: How is your preparation for the upcoming racing season, after the coronavirus pandemic is over?
A: Unlike last year, I was looking forward to have a season without any technical failures or difficulties. That was the reason why I directly got involved as a member of the technical team, even though I was the driver. Earlier I used to drive the cars prepared by my technical team, but this year I made a few changes. From this year I am more concerned about the technical aspect of my car and I am more involved with the team. I learned that part from Ashan Silva, he makes his own car. I may not be at his level, but I can certainly learn gradually.
Q: What is your machine?
A: I drive a Mistubishi Evolution VII, which has an engine of Evolution IX. The engine is at top level and that’s the reason why we are using that kind of technology.
Q: What is your favourite track in Sri Lanka and why do you like that?
A: For me all the tracks are equally the same. But I prefer the Kuda Oya track out of the lot. My weakness is the track with narrow space, but Kuda Oya is a track with massive space. That’s the reason why I prefer Kuda Oya than other tracks.
Q: Who are your supporters in motorsports?
A: My top sponsor is Dhammika Motors (Pvt) Ltd, which is my father’s establishment. Causeway Paints came forward to sponsor me after seeing my capabilities, and Mr. Kiridaran, the Managing Director has given me immense support. Last season I was included as a brand ambassador for Hutch Telecom, who are presently my greatest supporters.
Q: What are your objectives in motor racing?
A: In 2017, after Pasindu Peiris got involved in an accident at Kuda Oya, I had the idea of competing until I am able. But that opinion has now changed, because I have understood that this is a sport involved with great amount of risk. I may push myself further, until I become the number one driver of Sri Lanka and I may suddenly call it a day after I get there. I always have the aspiration of becoming the top driver in Sri Lanka and recording a win representing the country at international level.