There’s always a last minute hiccup and this weekend proved to be no exception. Rik was round helping me load The Truck, the back all loaded and secured with bike, tools, spares etc., I decided to pull forward closer to the house to load up food, bedding and stuff, to save a little leg work.
I fired her up, no worries, when the air tanks were sufficiently filled, popped her into first and pulled forward the 25 yards or so for loading the living bit of The Truck, and when I applied the brakes, both Rik and I noticed a constant release of air,
“You ever noticed that before, Dad ?”
So, I repeatedly pressed the brake pedal while Rik traced the problem to the o/s/r wheel and two, what I’ll describe as pressure release valves, one had completely perished, split in two while the other was distinctly looking its age. We had a swift discussion as to whether risk the 800km round trip with a brake problem, it was a non starter and we didn’t much fancy the alternative of camping and taking the two vans, we’re TT competitors, don’t you know ?
Rik crawled underneath for a closer inspection, by torchlight, deducing that the valves could be easily removed with a couple of 17mm spanners and as fortune would have it, he’d a couple in the Toyota. Within ten minutes we were studying them, in the kitchen with a cuppa and me wondering where I would find some replacements the following morning. Rik had to get off, as it was late, so I called on my neighbour to ask if he had any ideas.
He suggested a place in Limoges called Penne Auto so that would be my first port of call. Again Fortuna was looking favourably upon us, and Penne Auto is situated within a mile radius of three Renault Truck places and there’s a Truck breakers en route to Limoges, so the plan was set.
I pulled up outside Penne Auto five minutes before opening, at 8, still with half a cup of tea left, happy days, although my mood wasn’t overly hopeful. I went in.
This place, bordering on vast, is a veritable mine of useful stuff along the lines of Halfords, I eventually found my way to the truck section, said “hi” and showed the guy the old valves. His immediate response didn’t fill me with confidence. He disappeared, out back, into the labyrinth of shelves leaving me to drift into a little daydream about some kind of alternate timeline back there and it was just getting interesting when he returned with a couple of possible replacements, despatched them on the counter, turned and re-entered the maze, all in one slick movement as if on a mission.
I began to hope and a very short while later he reappeared clutching two new valves. Identical to the old broken parts. The sight filled me with joy and I thanked him very much as this outcome was almost beyond hope. He thought for a bit, obviously deciding that it was too much trouble to look up part numbers etc and offered them for 5€ cash, just for the coffee tin and smiled.
By 9.10 that morning I had returned home, fitted the valves, had the kettle on and was feeling somewhat smug. Rik and Sarah arrived a little later, we loaded up and was on the road by 11.30. We got to Pau just before Jay and Kathryn, all set up camp and snuggled in.
Next Morning dawned bright and chilly with an air of excited anticipation. While Rik was at the riders briefing, I had the wheels off in search of new tyres, Dunlop’s hopefully, as they’re the controlled tyres for The Promo Cup, alas only Pirelli were available so I only bought a front tyre hoping the rear would last, as it’d only done one short dry session, last year.
The first two sessions were both red flagged after two laps and it wasn’t until the third session that a few laps were strung together giving Rik some much needed time in the saddle to blow out the cobwebs, then the clutch started slipping. We missed the fourth session as it took a while to do the clutch, first time and all that, but pleased to report that the last two sessions were uninterrupted and Rik dropped into some steady consistent chicanery improving lap on lap, finishing the day in one piece and looking reasonably comfortable with the set up. We were all delighted with the progress made.
Next morning, Rik, basically, came out of the blocks clearly having digested the previous days learning experience, looking so much more comfy and slotted into some good consistent lappery. By the end of the second session the rear tyre had started to go off and needed replacing, also the temperature was climbing up into the mid twenties. Glorious.
So on new rubber Rik went out and put in his best laps of the weekend all around 1.28 and 1.29 with a fastest at 1.27 and a bit, finishing that session looking more like the Rik of a few years ago. Excellent.
For our final two sessions Rik circulated slightly down on the previous times but continued to feel and look at ease with Trudie and finished delighted with the weekends testing.
The following evening, at home, I watched a few onboard videos from Pau, on YouTube. There’s one from last years race at Pau in the LMNA Championship, the racer concerned finished 16th out of a full grid, didn’t beat Rik’s best but was consistent at 1.28, 1.29. So all’s promising especially as Rik informs me he was only revving it to 12,000, there’s 3000 revs to play with. Good Boy