Nick PercatSince leaving the steamy environs of Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway, Nick Percat has been busy away from the track searching for that extra tenth of a second. “I have been pretty flat out recently, as I have upped my training program and also moved house! One of the guys I train with, Holden Racing Team’s Will Davison asked me to move in with him, so that gives me daily access to one of the best drivers in the business, and also someone who knows what it takes to win in National Formula Ford” said a confident Percat on arrival at Sandown International Raceway Victoria.

While just about every other competitor raced recently in the two state series events at Sandown, Nick had to bypass these due to financial reasons. “I don’t have access to unlimited funds for racing, so I have to be careful where I spend my racing budget, and while it would have been nice to get some extra running here, I have to think more about what is going to get me to the end of the year.”

Friday afternoon was cool with only one practice session for Formula Ford, and Nick had his work cut out for him with everyone else about six sessions ahead in getting the perfect setup for their cars. Nick finished the first session 8th, six tenths off the pace set by Synergy’s Chaz Mostert. “No real problems with the car, but we will chip away and see what we come up with for the race” said Nick.

Saturday was another cold winter’s day in Victoria with Qualifying for Formula Ford being the first on track action. Percat was looking to steadily improve the car, with some speed still to come, however as the chequered flag flew signalling the end to the 20 minute session, Percat was in the unusual position of 8th four tenths off the pole time once again set by Mostert. ” I gave it pretty much everything I had in that session, but we are still lacking something with the car, and while we made some changes and I grabbed a slightly quicker lap on my final pass, it seems like we have still a bit to do to challenge for the wins this weekend…” said Percat on returning to the garage.

Race 1 was held in changeable conditions, with all the drivers and teams expecting showers at some stage in the day, but picking it was a hit and miss affair. As the drivers rolled out from the form-up grid, the rain started to fall, so it was going to be a terrific race in super testing conditions with less than ideal car setups!

Nick took his place on the grid, and with the lights going out for the first of three 12 lap races, it was Percat who was flying on the opening lap and with only half a lap completed, had moved swiftly up to 3rd place, and was already attacking for the lead come lap 3. The battle then commenced with team mate Mitch Evans and fellow kiwi Richie Stanaway pulling a gap on the rest of the field. Nick then took the lead on lap 8 only to have it taken back from him by Evans on lap 10, Percat explains.

“I had a great run in the early part of the race, as my speed in the wet was excellent, which was good news! And once I hit the lead I was doing it pretty easy….but on lap 10 I think my team mate Mitch made an error approaching the final corner, and out braked himself a little and came flying through on the inside, so I sidestepped a little to the left and made sure we didn’t come together, and I didn’t have enough in the tank to get passed him before the finish, without taking a big risk! So I am happy to take the points for 2nd and look after my championship lead”

Sunday brought Formula Ford competitors two races, with the first early in the morning in cool conditions.

Percat made a cracking start, taking the lead in the opening lap but the dry circuit wasn’t playing to his car’s strengths, and soon was relegated to 2nd place, with the tight battle group forming of Pye, Stanaway, and team mate Mitch Evans. “I was having to race pretty hard with these guys, as we seem to have a bit of work to do car wise in the dry, but finishing 3rd isn’t the end of the world, especially as my championship rivals are not able to take many points off me” said a smiling Percat knowing that the races remaining for the year are slowly ticking by.

The final race of the weekend was held in typically dry but threatening Melbourne weather conditions,  with Percat getting another good start, jumping into 2nd place for the early running. It was tight nose to tail racing up till lap 3 when the double waved yellow flags at turn 1 signalled another competitor had gone off the road, and as required, pack leader Ryan Simpson raised his hand from the cockpit and slowed, as did Percat and company who where right with him, however it appeared that the leader on the road who was initially a car length ahead of Simpson, didn’t slow by the same amount, and on the following lap had built and unassailable lead of 3 seconds. The fast flying Mostert took 2nd leaving Percat in 3rd.

“I am pretty happy with my efforts this weekend, as it was always going to be a tough one! And to come away with a 63 point lead, and a straight car, I can’t ask for much more than that!… I also have to thank my guys at SONIC who really pulled out all the stops to get me the results this weekend and their hard work has been paid off with our solid, if not spectacular result of 2nd for the round”

Nick would like to thank his supporters and sponsors, and for the latest news checkout

Keen “trainspotters” would have noted Nick running a slightly different helmet over the weekend, this was a tribute to good PAL Lucas Dumbrell.

Percat powers on to Round 6 held at Queensland Raceway on the 21-23 August 2009.