View from Pit Lane – Edition 10

Haute Saintonge - Awning nailed down!

Haute Saintonge 23/24/25 July – Part 1

The meetings are coming thick and fast at the moment, with barely enough time to recover.

We made it home, from Carole, in the early hours of Monday 12th July, just as it started to rain. We sarcastically congratulated the timing of the downpour, and hurriedly went our separate ways to our respective beds.

The plan was to swap engines the following weekend, but first, we called upon the services of Rikki ‘shims’ McGovern to check and adjust the valve clearances in the tuned motor. A nickname Rik had earned during The Manx Grand Prix back in 2013.

Rikki 'shims' McGovern, keeping the shims under control

As Bastille Day is a public holiday, it fell just right and we arranged to meet at Matt’s place in the morning to get the job done. As it turned out the clearances weren’t that far out from the measurements we had in Trudies’ little handbook. All but two had opened up a little which is what we had expected and hoped to find. It’s a potential problem if the gaps had closed up as it means the valves are stretching, which is never good! But the God of valve clearances was smiling favourably upon us.

Rik set to work adjusting and was all done and dusted by lunchtime, enabling us to have an early bath and rendezvous later that day for the Bastille Day celebrations. The only bad thing about the day was that Matt had a toothache and Rik and I were coming down with colds. 

The following Saturday, Matt still in pain, not that he complained, came over to ‘The Barn’ for the engine swap. He reliably informed me it was the fifth time (mentally I questioned his arithmetic, thinking surely not but let it go. 😊) We were both a little tired so took our time and made a ‘day of it’ calling an end to proceedings about half three. Leaving me with a few bits and pieces to finish up one evening later in the week.

By Tuesday evening she fired up a treat with no problems, save the engine management light being still on. Matt called and told me the ODB reader had turned up, (at last) so we made a quick plan to plug her in Friday lunchtime after a couple of practice sessions. Happy days. 😊

Freshly introduced for events of over 50 people, is either a QR code or negative PCR  test. So the four of us rocked up at the lab on the morning of departure for the circuit. If all went to plan the results should arrive, by email, just before we got to the circuit. Sarah was due back at work and would drive down the following evening for the weekend. Rik, Matt and I loaded up and were on the road by four in the afternoon.

Haute Saintonge is very difficult for us Brits to pronounce, requiring a good deal of facial contortions and a little pain if you’re going to get it right. It always gives us a laugh though and fortunately, I’m writing the name. 😊 Anyhow, Haute Saintonge 😁 is fairly close to home, only a couple of hours away and the PCR results pinged in half an hour before arrival. All negative thankfully!

We were directed to a great spot in the paddock, a grassy knoll overlooking a good deal of the circuit. Nice! 😊 This also allowed the pegging down of the awning, thereby avoiding a repeat of the ‘Navarra awning in the face Episode’.

Haute Saintonge turned out to be an idyllic and undulating little circuit, nestling in a valley amid the Charantais countryside surrounded by trees, putting us in mind of Brands Hatch. There is a great vibe about the place and we felt very comfortable on our little patch of it.

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