View from Pit Lane – Edition 18

Trudy in the pits at Navarra

Le Vigeant – 26/27/28/29 August – Part 2

The weather forecast was set fair for the next four days and so it proved with a glorious sunrise for Thursday’s track day. Both Matt and I had had fitful sleep, the ‘will she, won’t she’ scenario was a heavy burden, so we were up early drinking coffee and going through things one last time. We’d soon find out as Rik was out in the second session of the day.

Before we knew it he was on his way and we were at the pit wall impatiently waiting. Due to the different exhaust note of the triple, we could hear The Triumph a good 20 seconds before Rik came round the final turn into the start-finish straight. There was no misfire and sounding on song, which was the case when the pair came speeding down past us for the first time. Rik made no signal, a good sign but before we celebrate we’d give it another few laps.

Still no sign of misbehaving after 4 more circuits. We’d cracked it. The pair of us celebrated vociferously with high fives and the odd man hug, both much relieved and very happy bunnies indeed. The session ended with Trudie running perfectly, Rik came in with a smile on his face, great to see and we could now focus on reducing the lap times. Happy days.

From previous race results at Le Vigeant, I figured a lap time of 1:47, that’s minutes and seconds, would be front row. Rik’s best here was 7 seconds behind that, a big ask, but possible, probably not for qualifying but by the end of the weekend. Then he’d be up to speed for the next meeting at Le Vigeant in October. I must emphasise that all of Rik’s laps here in the past have been on track days not race days, there’s a big difference.

For the remaining four sessions of the day, we played with a few settings, Rikki experimented with different lines, gears and braking points and we finished the day taking 2 seconds off of Rik’s previous best lap. A great start to the weekend and we all slept soundly that night, for sure.

Friday morning again dawned bright and sunny with a slight Autumnal feel to the air, a stark reminder to myself that I need to organise some wood for the fire to see me through the winter, but I digress. We have 3 x 20-minute sessions to look forward to, this time all 600’s and also Rik’s competitors for the weekend. Trudie was good, handling like a dream the tyres were hanging in there and we were all excited to see what today would bring. I was hoping the Dunlops would last, as it would be perfect to start Saturday race day on fresh rubber. The mood in the camp was confident with the hard work put in by the team showing some dividends. By the end of the day Rik had shaved off another 2 and a bit seconds with a best of 1:50.2. Competitive Dad was a little disappointed at not breaking the 1:50 barrier, but surely tomorrow. ????

The day clearly showed 4 riders were by far in a league of their own, 3 were the usual protagonists, but the 4th was a guy Rik has had a couple of good races with, at Carole and Navarra. He clearly knew Le Vigeant very well and was riding brilliantly and very much enjoying himself, as were we.

The day’s debrief proved interesting as we went through Rik’s times for the final session, where Rik was still experimenting with gears through the fast chicane round the back of the circuit. We deduced that taking it in 3rd and driving through was far superior to a slightly faster approach in 4th and holding that throughout the turns. So 3rd gear it was for the remainder of the weekend. I was also happy to hear Rik was still experimenting, which told me there’s more to come. But I reminded him not to overthink things and let the track come to him, which it surely would.

A very satisfying couple of days, moving in the right direction with just one mystery left. The launch problem, but for now all’s good and we again had some restful sleep. 

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