View from Pit Lane – Edition 35

Navarra, Spain

Navarra, Spain – 17/18/19 June 2022 – Part 1

This race meeting marks our first anniversary of racing in France, not including test days, and what an event it turned out to be. Truly memorable. Not all for the right reasons though, as it was an extremely tough few days!

It also coincided with a Europe-wide heatwave with temperatures forecast to rise above 40ºC which turned out to be correct. We were also back to a full complement of team members, plus Amelia who had honorary membership for the duration, which was nice as she’s a bit of a petrol head at the tender age of 6.

We decided to do most of the travelling to Spain at night, so it was an early start being up at 01.30 am on the Thursday morning. After fuelling up the truck at our local petrol station, we were heading south by 3 am. With a stop for some coffee around 7am, the Team arrived at the circuit four hours later and the temperature was already way over 30º, but with a slight breeze which was most welcome.

I found a good spot in the paddock and we were set up, eating a full English breakfast a few hours later. We’d left the awning sides off to allow for a free run-through of the breeze, helping to keep the oppressive heat to some kind of bearability, if there is such a word. But we were all suffering and tired after the journey. A siesta proved impossible, so we took turns cooling off in the 15€ paddling pool I’d bought for just such occasions. A real godsend to say the least and probably the best 15€ I’d spent in ages.

As Trudy was ready to go apart from a few graphics we lazed for the remainder of the day, turning in for bed just as darkness descended. Although extremely tired, sleep proved impossible in the truck. So Matt and I moved our beds into the awning where it was marginally cooler, although less hot is a more appropriate term. But we did manage some sleep before getting up at sunrise. It was wonderful to be literally cool and I couldn’t resist grabbing another hour’s kip after a cup of tea.

9.20 am was the first of three sessions that day and we had a problem after each one. The first ended with Rik’s left leg covered in oil. He noticed it towards the end of the session when his foot slipped off the foot peg and pulled in immediately. The oil came from the generator cover being pushed up between the wires that come out of it.

We’d fitted the race ignition after Pau and had obviously disturbed that seal. It was a relatively easy fix with instant gasket, once the engine had cooled sufficiently to allow Matt to remove the generator cover.

For the second session, Trudie came back with a slight water leak. It looked like a stone had been flicked up and squeezed through the protective mesh, so it must’ve been quite small. The only available remedy was to mix some chemical metal, bung the hole and hope. Hope was successful until the end of the third session, which was run in the full heat of the day, some 40 odd degrees.

She came back, again leaking water and this time steam hissing like ‘Ivor the Engine’ and with water stains on the engine, this looked a little more serious. I could see that water was coming from the back of the rad which had another hole in it caused by a broken fan bracket which had vibrated against the radiator and made the hole.

Time for tea before attempting a repair, which required me to remove the radiator. Once removed I could see that a new bracket would need to be made and I found the perfect piece of ali, just the right thickness. It needed a bit of cutting, bending and a 10mm hole drilling into it, but all in a day’s work and the job gave me no problems. I decided to stick it back onto the rad with chemical metal and again hope it held for the remainder of the weekend, which it did. Happy days! 

After dinner, we did the final prep on Trudie for qualifying in the morning and went to bed. This time Matt and I moved into the garage part of the truck with a couple of air beds to sleep on. We left the sliding door open to make the most of what cool air there was. We had a reasonable night’s sleep. Rik, Sarah and Amelia had set up a tent next to the awning and paddling pool and they slept soundly as their tent didn’t retain the day’s roasting.

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