View from Pit Lane – Edition 19

Preparing for battle

Le Vigeant – 26/27/28/29 August – Part 3

Race position 8th.

Another gorgeous late summer’s day ahead of us. The race prep had already been started on Friday evening, it was just a case of finishing off, buying some new tyres and giving Trudie a final clean. We had 2 qualifying sessions and 1 race to look forward to. ???? We also had the prospect of visitors to look forward to welcoming and they didn’t disappoint, as at one point the fan club totalled around 20 I think.????

The first qualifying session ended with the top 4 all in the 1:47’s. Rik didn’t quite better his time from the Friday and finished in 10th on 1:50.4, with only half a second separating 6th to 12th, looks like it could be a good race. We know that Rik’s race pace is usually a good second above his qualifying times, so not too bad at all.

He was happy with all the settings and reported no problems. The only thing we needed to do was to fit the exhaust baffle as Trudie failed the noise test again. I have since bought some repacking material for it and will fix that for the next meeting at Ales. Now in stealth mode, Rik went out for the second qualifying session and I’m pleased to say he did improve slightly and moved up to 9th on the grid with a time of 1:50.03, so very close again to that elusive 1:49, and overall everything was looking good for the race.

In the past there had been provision for a practice start on the run-down lap after qualifying but not today, for some reason, leaving us still guessing on the launch. Rik didn’t quite, yet, have the pace of the top four so realistically, if Trudie launched, the best we could hope for was 5th, but this is racing, anything can happen.

The few hours to the race just evaporated, what with all the visitors and bike prep to do and we were soon parked up in the collecting area. The fans had dispersed to various corners of the circuit eagerly awaiting the show. What a show it was. ????

The start didn’t happen but somehow Rik managed to get her off the line without being left there by everybody else and came by at the end of the first lap in 14th at the tail of a group of 6 riders. Looking comfortable and taking 13th on the brakes into the first turn.

The top four had been joined by Lance, making it a five-way break at the front so we had an interest there too. After five laps Rik was progressing nicely up to 10th, being held up if the lap times are anything to go by, whilst Lance couldn’t quite maintain the pace at the front and was circulating a lonely 5th.

By lap 10 Rik had got through and made a slight breakaway in 7th and was 6 seconds or so behind 6th. The guy behind Rik was on another Triumph, quite a quick one at that, and he didn’t give up managing to close the gap back to Rik. The pair of them had a great little dice, exchanging places many times over the final three laps resulting in a very close finish. The pair were separated by a 10th of a second with Rik just missing out and finishing 8th.

I’ll put that down as one of the best races of the season so far and a great all-around performance to take into Sunday’s hour-long race. The lap time of 1.49 still remained elusive though and we still had to figure out why Trudie wouldn’t launch. It must be something simple, we just need to find it.

Still, for now, everyone was excited about the result and were most impressed with Rik’s riding. I don’t big him up too often but I will say that his riding on short circuits now is as good as it was back in 2007 on the little 400 Honda and I can see there’s more to come.????

Teas all round and the odd beer back at base camp, was the order of the day with an early dinner as Saturday evening has turned into ‘Punch Night’. Time for some rest and recreation…

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