View from Pit Lane – Edition 40

Trudie vs gravel trap

Circuit Carole – 08/09/10 July 2022 – Part 2

Saturday dawned, as forecast, bright and sunny. ‘Gonna be a good day,’ I thought.

I was outside the Dunlop set-up prompt at 7. Such a shame they didn’t open till 7.30. But at least I was second in the queue, which rapidly extended, and as it was I still didn’t get back to base until gone 8. We were due on track for the first qualifying at 8.40, leaving not much time for the tyre warmers to do their thing.

Rik was out on track on time though, circulating comfortably, and dicing with a couple of guys. ‘This is looking ok,’ I said to Matt and he agreed. Towards the end of the session, Matt left me watching while he went back to be on the rear stand when Rik came back. I saw the guy Rik was racing with come onto the back straight, about 400m away in the distance, followed by… a cloud of dust. 

No Rik, but just recognisable was the black livery of Trudie, bouncing through the gravel trap at that top corner. Bugger!

I turned round and ran (well, walked fast!) after Matt. Then gave up with that once I saw him and just shouted. ’He’s come off!’ Matt walked back to me and we went to the main paddock to wait for the recovery of bike and rider. They were delivered to the scrutineering bay a little bruised and battered but eminently repairable.

Matt and I pushed Trudie back to camp while Rik told us what happened. He said his first instinct just before he hit the deck was that the throttle had stuck open. Not good when trying to brake from around 145mph! He said he managed to scrub some speed off but lost the front when braking much harder than usual and parted company with the bike.

Considering the speed, the damage wasn’t too bad. Just a broken screen, bent handlebar and footrest. The petrol tank took another pounding, which was ok as it’s due for scrap anyway, and some medium damage to the seat and fairing. There were also a couple of holes in his leathers, caused by sliding face down on the track. His chest protector may have saved some broken ribs, we’ll never know. 

Second qualifying was only 90 minutes away. I made the executive decision not to rush the repairs, as Rik had done enough to qualify, even if it’ll be towards the back of the grid.

First job was to remove the fibreglass and blow out all the collected gravel followed by a wash down with soapy water. The throttle seemed to be working ok but we needed to double-check, which involves removing the tank and airbox as this gives better access to the throttle bodies and cables. Again we found nothing untoward.

Time for tea and a group chat. The verdict was pilot error, with Trudie being completely exonerated of any guilt in the carnage. Rik accepted his punishment, of making another cuppa, on the chin and said, ‘sorry, dad!’

We then set about repairs and worked really well together, almost finishing in time for the last 10 minutes of the second qualifying session but the scrutineering department needed to check the repairs, quite rightly. Rik and Matt took Trudie off and I fired up the burners for a late breakfast, almost lunch actually. 

After a few hours rest, we made our way over to the collecting area for the start of our race. It turned out to be a very eventful one and the series of events went as follows:

A great start, followed by a very close shave, whereby Rik and Trudie launched over the front wheel of a fallen rider early on the 2nd lap. That resulted in Rik taking to the grass before returning to the track, second from last.

We could then see that he was struggling, not riding with his usual fluency and not gaining any ground on the bikes in front of him. Then, after 13 laps, the red flags came out, stopping the race with the riders being directed into pit lane to await the restart.

This was very handy for us, but the poor unfortunate who crashed was carted off in an ambulance to the medical centre. In the meantime, Rik told us the brake seemed to be fading and not pulling him up as it should. Matt discovered the brake assembly had moved slightly not allowing the brake lever to come back to its maximum efficiency. I’d brought some tools with me, which came in handy, and the offending brake assembly was soon fixed. Happy days.

The riders were then called back on track for a sighting and warm-up lap, followed by a 6-lap restart. Rik was in the thick of it again as he disappeared from view in mid-pack. He came back into view again way back in a group of four riders. He told us later that four of them had a coming together exiting the first turn, all ending up with an excursion to the grass, but no-one went down.

This time though Rik managed to close up a little and was putting in some very respectable lap times, finishing the 6-lap dash in 19th overall and 9th of the 600s. After the excitement of the day, we’ll take that!

Rik was a bit battered though, and started to seize up once the adrenaline subsided. 

That was that for the day! I had planned to swap engines and give The Manx engine a run out in Sunday’s hour race, but decided we’d all benefit from an early night. 

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