View from Pit Lane – Edition 20

Circuit de Carole - 9/10/11 July

Le Vigeant – 26/27/28/29 August – Part 4

Sunday race position 6th

Matt was up at 7 am making coffee, the smell of which tempted me out of bed to join him. We formulated a quick plan then got to work on Trudie with the usual race prep routine. I took the wheels next door to Dunlop for tyres, whilst Matt had a play on the diagnostics as the start yesterday had triggered the management light. This revealed 4 fault codes all related to the sensors that had been disconnected during the wiring overhaul. Strange, as for the most part of that period the battery had been removed and the ECU  should not have recorded anything. Time for tea and a think.

Ok, this is what we came up with: What if, after any of the sensors are disconnected then reconnected it flashes a fault code, so we have to clear those codes before Trudie will launch?

It was worth a punt, so that’s what we did. Cleared the codes, unplugged the four sensors and reconnected them. They did show a fault code but hadn’t triggered the engine management light, so they were cleared and we fired Trudie up for a heat cycle. Then we had to try a launch.

The only place available was in the paddock next to the awning. This practise is frowned upon by the organisers, for obvious reasons, but needs must. We did implement some safety measures and Rik did his best to replicate a few starts, 3 in all and Trudie actually launched.

Matt plugged in his laptop and the diagnostics revealed no faults. Good news, had we actually solved the problem. It looked promising and as stated earlier, we felt it would be a simple solution. Electrics are a bit of a black art, to say the least. Rik would know for sure when he launched for the warm-up lap in 2 hours time. Just enough for a little contented snooze before the off.

The Cigma Racing Supporters Club turned up ‘en mass’ to cheer our boy on. After a quick chat and cuppa, they went off to find a viewing point leaving us to prepare the gear for our pit stop.

As the pit stop in Carole was not as smooth as it could’ve been, Matt and I swapped roles, Matt on fuel and me on the rear stand this time. Sarah still on petrol cap and drinks, she’d just had her nails done as well, a nice shade of pink, if memory serves.

It’s time, off we go to the collecting area feeling quite confident, so much can happen in an hours’ race, it’s so difficult to predict. Having said that, one rider, Julien Lenoble has won all 3 previous hour races and seems to be somewhat of a specialist, but there to be beaten.????

The call goes up and  Rik is off for the formation lap while we head for pit lane with all the gear and set up in a garage next to Lance’s family who are doing his pit stop. They kindly let us share.???? By the time we’re sorted Rik had done the formation and warm-up laps and is ready for the start.

The noise level of the engines raises appreciably and they’re off. Rik, for the first time, is with them. We were joyous. Rik did say afterwards, “I didn’t give it full welly, just in case,” and lost a couple of places as a result, but next time…

The start was, also, recorded and can be viewed on The Cigma Racing Facebook page. First time around, ‘our boy’ was in 11th. Again, at the front, the top four and Lance had made a little break of a couple of seconds. By lap 6, Rik was clear in 6th position and pulling away from 7th place. He was about 10 seconds down on Lance in 5th position and lapping at the same pace which was now below 1:50, consistent in the 49’s and with his best ever lap of 1.48.4 on that 6th lap.

The top four were a further 5 seconds up on Lance. Although Rik was riding faster than he ever had around Le Vigeant, he couldn’t make a dent in the gap to Lance. Could be interesting if the safety car were to be required, which would result in the riders all closing up. But for now, those positions remained the same as we prepared ourselves for the pit stop, around half distance. I put the sign out as Rik passed for the start of his 17th lap, he acknowledged and we got into place.

Sarah was standing where we wanted him to stop, giving her an easy stretch over to remove the fuel cap. I was ready with the rear stand and fire extinguisher, whilst Matt was primed with the fuel. We were being watched by an official… Sarah did her thing, I did my thing and Matt did his thing and it went like a dream until Sarah was about to replace the fuel cap. It was, unceremoniously, snatched out of her hand by the Official who was shaking his head saying “non, non, non”. We were all aghast!!!!

A few profanities later, the Official tried to hand the fuel to cap Rik, who was wearing his gloves and would not have been able to safely replace the cap, so he wouldn’t take it. The Official then took a couple of paces towards Trudie and dropped the fuel cap onto the tank. How it didn’t roll off, God only knows, but it nestled perfectly in place. Sarah secured it, Rik jumped back on and was already pulling away slightly by the time I’d removed the stand. The whole incident cost us about 10 seconds, it didn’t change anything but could have. We demanded an explanation.

Turns out Sarah was in contravention of the rules, by having her sleeves pulled up exposing her arms. When asked why he didn’t say anything earlier, he just turned away grinning. Another little anecdote for the collection. Officials are a strange breed, they always have been. I will have words with him at Ales.

Still, back to the race and unless the safety car came out the race positions looked pretty much set. It didn’t. The race was again won by Julien Lenoble, making four out of four. Lance was 5th and Rik, a very creditable 6th place, also finishing on the same lap total as the winner, 33laps.

All in all a great weekend, with a new best lap six seconds up and we have finally sorted out all of Trudies’ gremlins.

Next Meeting is Ales, 24/25/26 September.

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