The car has spent the last 10 to 12 years getting further and further away from one in which you would want to go touring. Noisy, hot and uncomfortable, why would you want to spend hours on end, mile after mile, driving around France in what has become a racing car? Well, the answer is that it would be huge fun. The car is so drivable on the road but also goes like stink when you put your foot down; its addictive. Linda said she was happy to go provided that I behaved myself and didn’t do anything daft. As if! So how to make it a bit more comfortable?
The idea was to drive down to the Loire valley with friends, spend a few days with them at a château near Blois and then get back up to north Brittany for the Saint Goueno hillclimb the following weekend. The need for comfort and also for the car still to be safe when doing the hillclimb meant that a few compromises had to be made. Clearly the plumbed in fire extinguisher system would have to stay but, on balance, I decided that I could safely remove the full roll cage and refit the FIA roll-over bar in its place. I had no plans to be too competitive after last year’s crash at La Pommeraye so, in some ways, not having the roll cage would keep me sensible. The full screen also had to stay which, although probably costing a bit in terms of top speed, the comfort factor far outweighs the benefit of fitting a wind deflector instead.
That just left the unbearably noisy straight cut Quaife gearbox which I decided would have to be replaced by a semi-helical unit and which would give not only much less noise but also a better 5th gear ratio for cruising. I had planned to buy the bits from SPC and build a new box but unfortunately Steve’s delivery date just went further and further out so I abandoned the idea and had to stick with what I had. In fact, with the Terratrip full headset intercom, the noise is reduced to a reasonable level and we can hear the TomTom and each other talking. The gearbox will probably be a winter project now.
All up, the whole trip was a great success and the weather kept fine for the entire two weeks. There were a couple of evenings on the Loire phase when getting into the 7 would have been a nuisance so we blagged a lift from a friend in his AM Rapide. Boy, what a car that is!
Saint Goueno was its usual few days of partying with the Brits, Irish and French and remains the highlight of the motor sport year, as always run with great style and humour by John Lloyd, Olivier Henri and the people of Saint Goueno.
Next up is the Etretat hillclimb over the August bank holiday weekend and I simply cannot believe how quickly its come around again. As I can feel the competitive gene lurking in the background, I think its time to refit the roll cage, remove the screen and prepare to go racing again.