View from Pit Lane – Edition 15

Preparing for battle

Pau Arnos 6/7/8 August – Part 2

I was up early, just before sun up, closely followed by Matt who also had troubled sleep. Both of us had been going through the procession of problems we’ve had all season, trying to piece together some kind of diagnosis. Nothing is adding up, but both of us are confident we’ll get to the bottom of it. Losing the test day yesterday didn’t help. We chatted for a while over coffee and cigs, formulating a plan for the day. Not that anything seems to go to plan.

After the second cup, this time I had tea, we set to work on the Bike, just prepping her and putting the wets back on as it was raining fairly hard. We were out in 2 hours so Matt and I felt pretty confident it would stay wet. I left Matt to have another go at the reset procedure and popped down to the Dunlop Guys for some new rubber. We’re getting quite chatty now and there was a fresh brew of coffee on the go so we sat down and had a little light breakfast. I treated myself to a second cup while they put the new tyres on the rims. This is the life!

When I got back to base Matt had just fired up Trudie for the third reset cycle. I stacked the wheels, made Matt a cuppa and we were discussing a few things whilst Trudie was idling away quite happily. That was, until she just died. We gave each other a puzzled look. “Battery,” I said, “can’t be anything else.” I dug out the spare. This was our first real clue but neither of us wondered why the battery should go flat so soon and put it down to the newly connected radiator fan. We decided to wait until she’d cooled down before swapping the battery in the very remote hope that the reset thing would work. We’d know in an hour.

It was still quite wet so this time we definitely had the right tyre choice. After 10 minutes or so I swapped batteries, warmed her up more than usual again, just in case, and Rik went out for first qualifying. The 20-minute session ended with a 5th position but Rik reported that things had taken a turn, as well as the spluttering she cut out a couple of times causing some understeer and forcing him wide. We double-checked the quick-shifter, all good as far as we could tell and as the diagnostic came up blank, there was not much else we could think of. It crossed my mind, ‘possibly about time to do some dyno work?’  Anyhow, that would be for another time, for now, we had no choice but to do the best we could.

By mid-morning the rain had stopped, the sun was out, the track drying and the new dry tyres were on. I must say that the front spindle fix works really well ‘a proper job’ if anyone remembers Scrapheap Challenge. ???? By midday we were off again for qualifying 2 on a bone dry track and things had not deteriorated, but not improved either. It was clear to us that Trudie was not on song and Rik was struggling to find his usual silky smooth rhythm but he kept at it and managed 7th with his best ever lap around Pau, 2 seconds off pole position.

We had about four and a half hours to find a solution and stripped her down again to re-check the electrics, testing resistance on everything, and again all things seemed as they should. I had ordered some new plugs after Haute Saintonge but they hadn’t arrived before we left. Bit of a problem when the meetings are so close together. We even had another inspection of the fuel filter and apart from a little expected debris, nothing was out of place. She was all back together and race-prepped with enough time to allow a little snooze before we loaded up and headed for the collecting area.

Trudie had only been on the stands for five minutes before the whistle went up and the riders were out on the formation lap. They all formed on the grid and were sent off for the warm-up lap. Ludovic, from LF Moto, was watching from the stand, to get a clue of our problems and maybe come up with some possible solutions we haven’t tried. The green light goes out and we’re all hoping that things, somehow, would work out. They didn’t. Trudie misbehaved the entire race.

To Rik’s credit, although frustrated, he kept at it in an effort to gain more info. They finished the race in 9th, ahead of two other riders but clearly not running right. We were all a little deflated back at camp when Ludovic cycles up and suggested we check the ignition and rectifier, something we hadn’t tested yet with the engine running. Seems obvious now though. We found that there was no charge even at 8500 revs.

Now things were starting to fall into place, maybe she was running almost total loss and by keeping the battery on charge over a race weekend we were inadvertently masking the problem. After Ludovic left us Matt and Rik tested it all again to make sure and came again to the same conclusion. This didn’t account for the launching off the line problem though, or maybe it did? We had a decision to make as the next available track time would be the hour race on Sunday early evening.

After a group discussion, we decided it wasn’t fair on Rik or the bike to ask them to do an hour or part of as a test. The conclusion was to reluctantly call it a weekend. Mat did remove the regulator and stator for packaging and sending back to the manufacturers, BDK in the UK, for testing. At the time of writing, I’m waiting for their return. BDK have told me they hadn’t found anything “overly irregular,” but have “tweaked” the regulator.

The next meeting is our local circuit, Le Vigeant, on 26/27/28/29 August. ????

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