My location: United States
Jan 2, 2011

The Thunder Tiger Series Cup is held annually at Niko Sales and Service Centre Buggy Track located at Senai, Malaysia. The track is about 50m x 50m, built on a mild slope about 3 ft elevation from the highest point to the lowest section of the track. It is technical and short sections, coupling with unpredictable surface conditions due to the weather and tricky in nature. Surface conditions can switch from loamy to high traction clay in the mornings to becoming blue grooved in the afternoon after the qualifying runs. The qualifying method used is standard three 7-minute qualifying sessions then to Christmas tree bump up system with top 3 drivers from each main moving up to the next main.

Due to the early morning rain, the qualifying sessions were reduced to 5 minutes each.

We arrived at the track bright and early, but because was still drizzling, the track had sections of water ponding. The track is thoroughly soaked, as it had rained through the wee hours of the morning heavily. Q1 was delayed to 9am to allow the track maintenance. Roy JJ was assigned to session 2 position 1.
The first run was not very promising because the track was very muddy and sticky. The mud bogged the performance of the buggy as it built up after 3 minutes into the session. The long straight's hard pack surface became slick and offer little or no traction and was difficult to obtain good speed.

With the track now drying up and at 10AM, the track started to become loamy. Traction was getting better from the data of the previous qualifying sessions, drivers were able to find clean semi dry lines which provided tremendous levels of grip. Certain sections were so good that buggies started to experience traction roll.
When the session started, Roy JJ had a clear road out of the pits. Traction was indeed good. He went through a few clean and fast laps clocking all less than 30 seconds until he came up behind some back markers. Overtaking was clean. Roy had the car retuned to stock, out of the box settings and the whole run was perfect with no mistakes or holdups. He broke the 11-lap barrier within 5 minutes of qualifying and was awarded the provisional TQ status.

The sun is now out and bright, the track has dried up tremendously. It has turned from loamy to now hard pack with loose top soil.
The run started good but traction was poor. The loose topsoil was robbing the corners of traction. About halfway through the run, Roy JJ caught up with the group of 5 back markers and with 3 buggies hot on his tail. He was stuck in a difficult situation and help up for a lap or two, causing him to lose valuable time. In the end, he did 10 laps in 5 minutes.

A Main final:
After many bump up mains later and with the sun blaring down, the track now has dried completely. It has now become hard pack and the previous runs sweep most of the top soil away. Certain sections have started to show signs of blue grooving and ruts are starting to develop.
Roy JJ will have to obtain a result of second position or better to secure the overall champion title. With 13 cars out on the grid, of which, three are from Serpent.
After 5 minutes of open practice for the top 13 drivers, they are ushered to the starting grid. As Roy was the TQ, he started out at the pole position. Horn is blown for the start of the 45-minute long main and the race is now on!
The buggy cleared through the first few sections cleanly with the 2nd and 3rd close behind just seconds away. The positions remained until all the action came after the 2nd fuel stop. The 2nd place buggy belonging to another Serpent took the lead a few laps later after the 2nd refuel. But it was a short-lived one as it flamed out just a few laps later. When it rejoined the race much later, it was already a few laps behind.
The next closest contender, a Hong Nor X2CR, is now hot behind Roy's tail. The third position, Kyosho MP9 TKi2, rising from the back in 13th position is also quickly gaining up on them.
The X2CR was literally all over Roy's back and trying to find ways around him. It kept putting pressure on Roy but the Serpent was steadfast. The Serpent held on to the racing lines and further tightened it. The pit crew responded by adjusting re-fuel strategies to maintain advantage.
When approaching the halfway mark, the X2CR flamed out and gave Roy some breathing space. However, this was also short-lived. The Kyosho pushed hard through and now behind him. With the Kyosho on the offensive, the race is now even made tougher with the darkness of the night covering over. The race is now officially into night. Floodlights were turned on and the race now is even more challenging.
The clash between the two buggies is even more intense now. With 15 minutes more to go, this battle is fated to go into overdrive. The focus beyond endurance can be seen in the buggies. The drivers drove them on the edge and aggressively. The leading Serpent fortified its defenses by closing any opportunities for overtaking while the trailing Kyosho prowled and pranced furiously all over, looking for any slightest window.
The race now is into the last five minutes and the two drivers are battling it out with no change in positions. The two drivers now approach a difficult section ahead. About four back markers are ahead of them and they will have to make their way through. Roy was sandwiched between two buggies on its flank and the third behind. Nevertheless, the most unfortunate happened, the third buggy, which was the X2CR could not brake in time for the corner, went straight into Roy's Serpent causing him to spin out! The Kyosho saw the opportunity and quickly overtook the lead and sped off. To make matters worse, upon recovery from the spin out, another buggy ran it over and causing him to flip. By the time, the buggy was back on track; it is on 2nd position and was 15 seconds behind the leader. With the final minute, Roy managed to close the gap to 10 seconds but it was just too far away and too short a time to gain back his position.

Roy JJ completed the race in 2nd position and took the series champion for 2010 with 3 TQ and 2 A-Main Champion.

Special Thanks to Niko Cheng…