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It's the waste fuel recirculation system. I call it the slack tappet simulator. It taps very audibly during certain tickover situations and is due to a solenoid valve being pulsed. I think it's in time with the revs so sounds very much like a tappet. The valve allows petrol vapours from the carbon absorption canister (under rear body) to be drawn into the inlet manifold and burned.

On the 1.8 engines, the valve is mounted on the side of the battery box. Here's a photo of mine.



TC

EDIT: Photo should be labelled K16 not K18!

My quick find marker is #PVR# (Petrol Vapour Recycler)
 

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Oh right, that was going to be my first reply (as it's VERY common on the V6s) but I got confused when I saw the non-return valve and the brake pipes. Sorry!
The V6 engines use exactly the same system, except the solenoid valve is located just behind the RHS (as viewed) upper inlet manifold.

So, the sound is nothing to worry about?
No, the ticking noise is quite normal in these engines. It usually happens during hot engine tickover and will stop when you drive away.

TC
 
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