Haute Saintonge 23/24/25 July – Part 3 – Saturday
View from Pit Lane part 3
Up and out of our bunks at 7 am for coffee, nicotine and a peek outside to witness a beautiful dawn, not a cloud in the sky. Matt and I chatted for a bit, not mentioning our respective health problems, then got stuck into finishing the prep on Trudie, and taking her down for scrutineering. The guys made a torch-lit cursory inspection of the petrol tank’s interior to see the blue coloured foam, smiled, signed the necessary paperwork and sent us on our way. Back at base, the bike was put on stands, tyre warmers on and we killed a few hours drinking tea and socialising, deciding to test our neighbour’s diagnostic after qualifying.
Haute Saintonge ???? is close enough to home, about one and a half hours by car, and we welcomed our first three visitors of the season just before qualifying. Perfect timing. Ali, Claire and little Amelia (aka ‘Pickle’), Sarah’s Mum, sister and daughter, so a real family affair. ‘Pickle’ was delighted to receive a little wave from Rik as he went on the circuit. ????
They all compete at Equestrian events, fully understanding the thrill with the high and lows of emotions. Rik was out on track, circulating smoothly and looking good returning times of one minute and a fraction. We were all excited and happy with the way things were progressing until I looked at the live timings, which showed Rik mid-pack, and lapping a second or so off of pole position. It could well be time to invest in a pit board as it’s becoming clear I need to communicate with Rik whilst he’s on track. I can feel you all tutting right now thinking ‘yeah obviously’ but we’ve honestly never needed it in the past. I’ll put it right for Le Vigeant at the end of August. There’s not enough time for delivery before Pau unless I can buy one at the circuit.
Right, back to business. Although the top three upped their game for qualifying, the remainder of the top 15 was all within half a second, with Rik being one of them. In race mode, Rik has already beaten most of those guys, so 14th was not too bad a result. Providing the bike launched ok. Our neighbour with the other Triumph got 3rd on the grid, excellent.
Once the dust had settled and we’d all calmed down, I got brekkie on the go whilst Matt borrowed the diagnostic reader and went to work. Again giving no result, this proving the problem is with Trudie. Further investigation also proved there was no power to the diagnostic plug. We assumed a break in the wiring loom somewhere and didn’t want to start cutting that about, three hours before a race. We decided to go with what we had and hope she launched ok. Brekkie was a good one I might add, although Rik only ordered a sausage and egg sarnie. ????
We put Trudie back together, after a quick clean and check over, got the warmers on and she was ready for the afternoon’s fun. In the meantime we’d welcomed two more guests, putting us over our quota apparently. Jenny and Jerome, very good friends of Rik and I. They’d booked in to stay for the weekend and we’d saved them a nice little pitch on our grassy knoll, right close to all the action at Camp Cigma Racing.
Now, Jerome is an electrician by trade. The universe works in mysterious ways and all that with our problems being definitely electrical, so we’re blessed with another knowledgeable head to help out when we dissect the wiring. Still, that was for later, we had a race to do before then.
The time soon arrived to get set up in the collecting area, and today we finally had my generator which had been recently returned, from a client who’d borrowed it. The thing filled the trolly, forcing us to carry everything else. Luckily we had many volunteers haha! We get all set up and start the genny which went first pull as usual, but I noticed no lights on the warmers, the genny wasn’t charging. Bugger. Nothing to be done right now and we’re no worse off than we were at Carole and Navarra. I never thought of testing it before departure. My optimistic attitude, I suppose. Everything always works out though, always has and always will. ????
As it turned out we were only held in the collecting area for five minutes so the wheels and tyres still had a good deal of heat in them, with a couple of laps to look forward to before the off. Rik gave ‘Pickle’ another little wave on his way to the grid, taking up his 14th position, getting ready for the practice start and warm-up lap. We were all standing in pit lane watching, willing Trudie to behave herself and for once, be a racing motorcycle. The decibel level raised significantly as the grid waited to be sent off as one, for the warm-up lap.
Well almost as one. Yep, Trudie spluttered away as with previous starts. Disappointing for one and all. Warm-up lap completed, Rik went to the back of the grid, for safety reasons. Not just for Rik, but the other riders too. We’ve seen some horrific startline incidents over the years.
So last away it was then. As usual, Rik picked off the slower stragglers quite quickly but seemed to stall a little. Probably a bit deflated about the start thing. By half distance, he had only managed to reach 18th position and wasn’t lapping a speedily as qualifying or the previous day, but still marginally quicker than some riders just ahead of him. Rik rallied and forced his way through that little gaggle of riders coming home in 14th, with a best lap of over a second off of his qualifying time. We could see he was trying so I needed to have a debrief. Our guests were delighted with the entertainment, which I must say was very good and thoroughly enjoyable.
Back at base camp and with Trudie on stands, it was clearly visible we had a water problem. Inside the screen was wet and dried water stains covered the left-hand side of the bike. Rik told me his left leg started getting wet at half distance, then the spray went into the inside of the screen and the temperature went to max. I told him the lap times and by his reaction, I could tell he was giving it 100%. So we lost a little power, I would say. As chance would have it, a free practice session was scheduled after the days racing, so we paid our 3O€ cash and booked a place. But first, we had to find the problem.
Trudie was very hot and had overheated, so I quickly whipped off the fairing, got a cold air blower going to cool her off and we all went and had a cuppa, leaving Trudie to her thoughts. Whatever they may be. ????
I seem to remember Jenny and Jerome’s tent was also put up at this juncture. ????
Trudie had lost half of her water, but with no leak being clearly visible, we figured the problem to be the radiator cap. We filled her up, changing the cap as well, and Rik went out for his extra test. I thought he was only going to do ten minutes, but Rik decided all was good and the extra track time would be helpful. He did the full 30 minutes. When he managed to find a clear track he was lapping back in the 1-minute zone, so all was now good and working well.
The MotoClub who run the meeting had organised a little pitlane soiree, so we decided to take the evening off, enjoy ourselves and take in the convivial atmosphere of the weekend. I sorted a new rear tyre and met the others in Pit Lane for refreshments. A marvellous evening was enjoyed by all and after some food, we all turned in for a good night’s sleep. We were hit by a thunderstorm an hour or so later. I slept through it, but think the others had a disturbed night. Matt certainly did.