View from Pit Lane – Edition 37

Navarra Start-Finish

Navarra, Spain – 17/18/19 June 2022 – Part 3

From how Rik described what had happened I suspected a flat battery, so we now know, for sure, the race ignition is not charging at all. I pushed Trudie back to camp which wasn’t too bad as a slight decline was in my favour and fortunately not too much effort was required in the heat. First thing we did was to check the voltage, a lowly 8.4 volts no wonder she stopped. Time for tea and a think… 

We concluded that there were two choices, pack up and drive home in the cool of the night or dissect the two ignitions and swap the crank position sensors. We chose the latter. As already stated this is not an easy fix, especially when you’re hot, tired and a little grumpy. So after a second cup of tea, we all got to work.

For a third time Matt set about removing the race ignition system and I removed the broken CPS from the good system, with a ‘shit or bust’ cutting of the wires. All was going well and our spirits were lifting, until I came to remove the good CPS. It is fixed to the engine generator cover and these two fixings just would not budge. We resorted to drilling out the little bolts. This is a speciality of Rik and after 20 minutes of careful drilling, he’d managed to free it. Now to cut these wires for a complete removal.

At this point I slid back the protective sleeve, exposing the wires needing to be cut, and that movement caused one of them to break at the exact point where it comes out of the sensor. I cut the wires further up and put the CPS on the table, at the same time thinking, “right, this really is game over.“ Matt and Rik both felt the same. 

Our French neighbour popped in to see what was occurring. I showed him the problem and said, “there’s no way that can be soldered.” 

His reply was “yes but, you gotta try, there’s nothing to lose.” He spoke good English and he was right, so I had a think about what to do.

Makeshift ignition repair kit

The plan was to blob some solder on the hole left by the broken wire hoping it would make a connection and then solder the wire to that. A very delicate operation, leaving a good deal to luck. Amazingly it all went very well and Trudie was soon put back together again ready for the real test.

We changed the battery and I nervously hit the starter. Bam! She breathes, to much relief and smiles all around. I left her idling, Matt checked that she was charging and all was working well. Deep joy. We were past the curfew for running race engines so I turned her off. Mission accomplished and still time for some very strong rum punch, courtesy of the organisers at WERC headquarters. Just the celebration we needed before I cooked dinner.

At dusk, the paddock was buzzing with everyone looking north to the mountains which were ablaze illuminating the horizon with an orangey-yellow glow. We later heard that all the roads around the circuit had been closed. We went to bed around midnight with the smell of woodsmoke in our nostrils, wondering what would happen if the wind changed direction blowing the fires towards the paddock.  Don’t know about the others, but I remember falling asleep thinking about cans of petrol and what to do with them.

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