Ales – 24/25/26 September – Part 3
First job this morning was to visit scrutineering, which opened up at 8, just after first light. We had, for the first time in ages, a heavy cloud cover with rain forecast for the afternoon. But for now it remained dry and there were no problems to report with the scrutineer, thankfully.
First Qualifier was mid-morning with Rik finishing a disappointing 18th. Yet again it was really close all the way up to 8th position, but Rik did have an opportunity for a practice start which he said was “very good,” and we all knew an improvement would be very helpful. Rik did say though, that it’s tricky to shave off those vital tenths of seconds and he was still making too many mistakes. He moved up the grid to 12th after the second qualifying session, which is 4th row, so we shall see what happens in the race at 4.30 pm.
Rik did have another practice start though, and once again Trudie launched with no issues and he said she wheelied. Happy days and we were all confident of a good result. There was a three-hour wait though and during that time the area was hit by the biggest thunderstorm we’d all ever witnessed. Absolutely incredible.
We were situated on a slope and the water runoff, at one point in the storm, was lifting the flooring and seeping up through the joins. So much water fell in the hour that I was expecting the cancellation of the remainder of the day’s events. But these storms are common in this area and the circuit was built with large, very large, storm drains so only 2 qualifying sessions were lost and racing was only delayed by 30 minutes. By the time we were called to the start it had stopped raining and believe it or not the circuit was beginning to dry. This was not to last as 5 minutes before the formation lap it hammered down. We really must buy an umbrella to protect the rider. ????
They formed on the grid for the warm-up lap and because of the conditions, there would be two of those with a reduction to a 15 lap race. In the pouring rain they set off for the warm-up and Rik went backwards. We couldn’t or didn’t want to believe the inevitable and hoped Rik was just getting a feel for the conditions. He wasn’t and for the start, proper, Trudie didn’t launch.
Rik dropped to 21st on that first lap and to compound the situation he said his visor misted up for 2 laps. How that happened we cannot tell as he has an anti-fog insert on it, we couldn’t make it mist up back at camp.
Back to the race and on lap 3 Rik finally was progressing nicely, moving his way steadily forward and by the 5th lap was up to 11th and he could see that he was catching the leading group of ten riders. Then, on lap 6, Rik was pushing slightly too hard and lost the front. Bugger. First crash of the season. He was ok and up straight away, which is the main thing, but Trudie was obscured from view.