Sunday, 29 September 2013

Club Triumphs 10CR 2013 (part 1)

They don't want to go ...
With the car ready and fully loaded for the event I did one last check of all the fluids on the Wednesday morning before setting of to our overnight stop in Watou (Belgium). Only to find out that the oil level in the sump had risen mysteriously during the night. And as the oil smelled of petrol it was time to remove the fuel pump and check it for leaks, which it had! Long story cut short, I managed to find my only decent spare one (at a friend's place in Belgium of course and not at home ...) and fitted it. And together with an oil change and some more tinkering this meant that I left home some 5 hours later than planned. But we got to the B&B in Watou in time for some proper Belgian frites and a few proper Belgian beers from the neighbouring brewery.



But there was a problem. Roger's car for the event (a TR4 borrowed from Robbie) had a completely flat battery. And as the shops were all closed by now we had to wait till next day before we could do anything ...

So day one of the event started the same as the previous day, with some spannering going on, glad to say it wasn't on my car this time. As the battery of Roger's car was fairly flat he thought that something must be wrong with the battery itself. Which meant we would have to drive to nearby Poperinge to find a new battery. As this would at least take us till 10 o'clock we phoned Ellis to say that we wouldn't be able to reach the start in time for the briefing and the official start. We would start from the earlier continental starting location at Steenvoorde.
But while checking under the bonnet again Roger found out that one of the cables from the (new) alternator had dropped out of its connector. And after the slightly fiddly job of refitting the connector it was time to see if we could get some life in the engine with the aid of some jump leads ...


The engine started almost immediately, and after letting it run for some time to charge the battery, we even found out that this was back to normal. But it was nevertheless too late to reach Calais/Coquelles in time for the official start of the event. Which left us some time for a relaxing coffee break, before heading of to Steenvoorde which was only a stone's throw away.

10CR Day one; Steenvoorde - Laffrey (888 km)


So again our 10 CR started at the services on the A25 just north of Steenvoorde. First thoughts were to wait for the first crews to get past Steenvoorde before setting of, but we were so eager to go that we set off at around half past eleven, towards the first control stop in Reims. This first leg is of course dominated by a fair amount of motorway driving to get some quick 'n' easy miles under the wheels. But after Valanciennes we left the motorways behind us and switched onto the old French road network, or the Routes National. And with the very fine weather it was a rather enjoyable drive. Although right from the start the car behaved rather well, there remained some doubt in the back of my head. I kept hearing all sorts of funny noises (in my mind?), but in the end these worries turned out to be unfounded.

After leaving the A2 motorway south of Valanciennes we soon got onto the D934 heading south towards Laon and from there towards Reims for our first control. But that was still a few hours away. As it was by now well past noon we decided to stop at a truckers restaurant in La Groise for a light lunch, which they didn't do. And as none of us did fancy a full three course truckers menu yet, we decided to have our own lunch, consisting of Mars bars and drinks from the thermos bag, before hitting the road again. So far everything was going well with no problems, traffic was light, both cars behaved as they should and the weather was rather enjoyable.
And just before 3 o'clock in the afternoon we were approaching the outskirts of Reims, turning from the D944 onto the motorway for the last stretch towards the remains of the Reims-Gueux circuit. But what should have been a 10 minute journey, became a 40 minute ordeal, wandering from toll booth to missed exit to unclear situation etc...

©GTRoger

In the end, and fairly fed up with the French motorway junction's layouts we headed back north towards the D944, so we could approach the circuit using some nice simple country lanes, which worked out very well. The frustration was soon over when we met up with some of the other teams and took some time to explore the remains of the circuit's buildings, like watching Roger's (well actually borrowed from Robbie) TR4 from the grand stand cooling down after the Reims motorway ordeal ...


Wedge meet in the old pit-lane ...


The grand-stands seen from behind, with the tunnel running underneath the road, between grand-stands and pit-lane ...


Rather green TR7 DHC in the pit-lane ...


After setting off from Reims we immediately lost sight of Roger & Els in the TR4. As it later turned out they took a slightly different route past Reims. So alone we carried on, but not before having some more problems around Reims (don't mention French cross-road lay-outs for the next two years or so). But quickly we left Reims behind us heading ever more south. The organizers had done a good job in selecting the roads, they were very nice to drive and navigating was fairly straightforward. And the car still behaved as if in the previous months nothing had happened. Only the viscous coupling is still a bit stiff, as a result of which the fan is a bit noisy when revving the engine in the lower gears.

But to prevent us from settling down an old lady thought it a good idea to keep us alert. While approaching a cross-road (with right of way for us) an old lady in a mouse grey French hatchback was patiently waiting for me in the road on the right. But at the last minute she decided that the wait had been long enough, and she turned (slowly of course) left onto the road crossing just in front of me. I managed not to hit her, but there was a margin of only a few centimetres between my front bumper and the rear of her car. As I said it keeps you alert ... Luckily that was most of the entertainment we got during the run.

In the early evening we entered the outskirts of Bar-sur-Aube, where we saw a familiar car standing at a service station, accompanied by the Charlton's with their the Spitfire. This was the second time we caught with them, the first time being in Vitry le Fran├žais. But then we lost them again while they were legging a bit behind. So they didn't notice that we had stopped for some petrol at the Carrefour in Brienne-le-Chateau.


Turned out that both the TR4 and the Spitfire had developed some problems, luckily both not to serious. Actually they were just about ready to hit the road again. As it was about time for some diner we decided to stop at the first possible restaurant we would come across, which we eventually did about half an hour further down the road in the village of Clairvaux. And although the food wasn't bad I still don't see why France pretends to have such a marvellous cuisine. At least ordering the food was rather entertaining ... And with some food inside us we started on the last leg towards the second control stop (and the last for the Thursday), the Dijon-Prenois racing circuit. Again everything went smoothly, with some very nice driving roads. But shortly before reaching Dijon, in the village of Val-Suzon-Haute, Roger pulled into a lay-by, just visible in the back ground ...


The engine was lacking power due to what seemed like fuel starvation and his first impression was that the (electric) fuel pump was on the way out. Changing one of the fuel filters did help, but only a little. At this point we were only half an hour from the next control stop in Dijon. So we decided he'd try to get to there, as it was likely that there would be some knowledgeable people around to lent a hand and some advice to find a solution for the TR4's problem. We did make it to the control, and our assumption was right. With some help we managed to eliminate the fuel-pump as the cause, and trace the fault to the front carburettor. It had some dirt in the float chamber and the piston had a tendency to stick a little. After cleaning everything out the engine was running much better.



And by 22:40 hr we set of into the night for the last leg towards Grenoble, and a few hours sleep on top of the old citadel, the Fort de la Bastille. But that was still some five hours ahead of us. It's strange that driving through France at night always feels very relaxing to me. Only a slight "dip" round two o'clock in the morning, but this coincided nicely with a much needed stop for fuel and some snacks and drinks from the thermos bag. We had arrived in Montalieu-Vercieu, less than two hours away from a few hours sleep. As we drove on we didn't notice the Triumphs in the Carrefour car-park, when we passed through Voiron ...
Entering the outskirts of Grenoble also meant entering one huge works-site with lots of temporary traffic lights which were adjusted to switch to red as soon as a car approached, irrelevant of the fact if there was other traffic or not. In the end we decided to generously ignore them and head for the narrow and very steep (33%) "Chemin de la Bastille". This would lead us to the top of the old fort and a few hours sleep. As we were more than an hour behind schedule we expected a parking lot full of Triumphs. There were none. And after driving around the complex without spotting a Triumph, we decided it was time to give Ellis a phone call and see if he could clear things up a bit. He could. The location for the rest had been moved because they couldn't get a permit, and we had missed the briefing in Calais. But at least it was a fantastic drive up with great views over night time Grenoble. But although the views from the top were fantastic, we were less impressed by the youth hanging around so we decide to head down again and drive on till we would find a decent lay-by to have a few hours sleep. This we found by the side of the D1085 near Laffrey. It was a quarter to 5 in the morning, time for a well deserved bit of sleep ...

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