There has been a bit of a shuffle this year with a handful of drivers swapping between Super Production and Super 1500 two categories for similar cubic capacity cars, albeit to different technical regulations. One of those to jump in the direction of ‘production’ cars is actually a returnee – sort of. Khun Tony Percy is joining bustling category after most recently running in Super 1500 in a Toyota Vios. Before that he competed in Super 2000 from 2008-2013. And before that, in 2007, he ran a season in production cars. That was actually his rookie ‘tin top’ year and came after a long and very successful stint in Thai karting.
For this year though Khun Tony has been hamstrung by having to prepare a new car, his – usual – lack of budget and as he’s working half the way round the world this year, in Tbilisi, he’s just coming back for race weekends which is leaving no time for him to prepare thoroughly or test the new car while he’s also been using an underpowered engine during the opening rounds.
Despite all that’s he’s made a pretty good showing and he’s confident that the all round package isn’t too far away now. “As you know I have been developing the [Honda] Jazz over the last couple of races and it’s almost there,” Khun Tony says.
“To date I have been running with around 12 hp less than the front runners but keen to complete the braking and suspension set ups before completing what I hope to be the last piece in the jigsaw when we install the rebuilt engine, that I hope will provide the missing horsepower,” he continues. “The car will go to the dyno later this week and I hope it puts a smile on my face ready for Bira, though horsepower isn’t so much of a factor as it has been at Buriram for the past two rounds.”
So a quick recap. Four races undertaken this year and he’s had a pretty consistent run, with class points bagged in all four races. In the first race of the year, held back in May in Buriram, Khun Tony was seventh overall (4 overall pts) and fourth in Class B (10 class pts) to kick the year off with a trip to the podium. Meanwhile in the second race of the weekend he was fifth overall (8 pts) and again finished fourth in class (10 points) and that gave him a double trip onto the podium, and in fact that added up to three out of a possible four for the weekend.
The return trip to the North East at the end of July was less rewarding though as he was caught in an incident while running well placed in the first race. Khun Tony recovered the Jazz but would finish only twelfth overall which gave him no overall points; however getting the damaged car to the line paid off well in class terms as he nabbed seventh place in Class B, picking up a useful 4 points. In the other race of the weekend, compromised by having to start down the grid thanks to the previous day’s ill luck, he however worked his way up to ninth place overall, to collect 2 points, and that added up to sixth in Class B, and a handy 6 points.
“To be honest Rounds 3 and 4 were a disappointment really brought about by being taken off when running in sixth overall [and] having qualified eighth overall, I know I could have climbed to fifth overall as a minimum as I was closing in on that place quite easily,” Khun Tony said. “Finishing so low down in Race 3 obviously impacted upon Race 4, but that just motor racing, one minute on a high the next down the slippery snake and on a downer. I think, or should I say hope, Bira will give a true reflection of where we are as up until now its been a combination of getting the car to where I need it and a bit of bad luck,” he continued. “By the time Bangsaen comes around I hope to be able to end the season on a high.”
Khun Tony also points out that his application is being severely compromised by the fact that business commitments keeping him away from Thailand for most of the year. “The problem I have is that I can’t test anything due to working overseas,” he explains. “All the testing and changes that I make have to be done and tried on race weekends, so it takes basically an age to get the car to what I like to drive, each race circuit is obviously different set up, camber, alignment, suspension settings, gearing etc., etc., and I am still finding my feet with the Jazz,” he adds. Still, it’s a promising start to the year; the ingredients are clearly there, so certainly expect to see Khun Tony on the Class B podium at Bira Circuit next week if he avoids any issues.