Last weekend saw the last race of the year on my hectic 2012 calendar, the Britcar production cup night race at Brands Hatch. Despite the miserable weather, it was a good day and a great race. However there was one part of the day that left me somewhat disappointed. It was announced that there would be no Britcar 24hr race next season.
The UK has a thriving motorsport scene and is probably the hub of motorsport technology. Lots of F1 teams are based in the UK, there are superb championships such as British GT, Formula 3, and British Touring Cars going all the way down to well entered grass roots level. The UK is also home to some great circuits such as Brands Hatch and Silverstone. Yet next year there will be no 24 hour endurance race in Britain.
There are successful 24 hour races held across the globe, which are always well attended. Obviously the likes of Le Mans and Daytona 24 hour are massive events and so too is the Nurburgring 24. But races in Belgium, Dubai and Spain are also becoming increasingly popular. Endurance racing has a huge following of hardcore racing fans across the globe and also within the UK. There are thousands who make the trip across the Channel to Le Mans or Nurburgring each year to get their much needed fix of live 24hr racing. So why, when the UK is such a big player in the word of Motorsport can we not host a popular and well supported 24 hour race?
Without going into details, I understand costs and budgets have a huge influence on the demise of the Britcar race, but fields have been in decline and with less than 30 cars taking part in this year’s race, it was, to be more than fair, a poor turnout. It also felt like the spectator numbers had also taken a nose dive too compared to previous years. But even when the field was 60-70 strong, the crowd numbers still, personally speaking, seemed somewhat disappointing. Maybe more could have been done to advertise the event, maybe more could be done to create awareness of the series as a whole, or maybe the lack of big European teams and well known drivers that enter the other 24hr races doesn’t generate interest. Perhaps Top Gear could come back and have another stab at racing round the clock.
I know it’s hard to organise a high profile event and it takes a long time to but create a quality race that attracts big names and manufacturers, but sure the UK deserves something of that scale? Ok, so the UK circuits probably don’t have the charm that the likes of la Sarthe, Spa or the Nurburgring Nordschleife but it’s not that that’s causing the stumbling block. It needs a backing from a good motorsport organisation. Whilst I really like the Britcar race series, would they ever be able to take their 24hr race to the next level? Recent years suggest not. I know the likes of the SRO already organise the Spa 24hr race as well as a number of superbly run and supported race series including the British GT that is continually getting stronger and stronger, more high profile and increasingly well supported and entered. So with a series of this nature running in Britain that already has the rest of Europe standing up and taking note, maybe there is still chance of a top 24 hour race in the UK becoming a regular feature that will get fans not just across Britain in attendance, but fans across Europe too.
The baton has been dropped and is in need of some steady hands to pick it up. Or maybe, there are just too many 24 hour races already?
Finally, if you are a fan of endurance and GT racing, then there are still a few remaining copies of my limited edition 2013 A3 calendar available, featuring images from the Nurburgring 24, British GT, GT Open, FIA GT1 and WEC. Also you will receive a free A4 mounted print with every copy ordered. Just visit my website here for more details. Also, a range of prints from the race events I have covered this year are also available to purchase and would make an ideal gift for any petrol head and motorsport fan this Christmas.
The weekend before last saw the Britcar Endurance Championship and Production Cup head to Donington Park for an into the night race. A unique race that in theory should have bought many endurance race fans and motorsport fans in general to take in the action at Donington.
Sadly that wasn’t the case. Whether it was the early rain that engulfed the qualifying session for the Production Cup or the cold temperatures later in the day but a good days racing was missed. With a 90 minute production cup race, the four hour endurance race finishing under the cover of darkness and the Smart4two cup on the bill there was plenty of action to see.
The rain cleared up after the morning and a damp track provided plenty of action in the production cup. The few fans who did turn up got a chance to see BTCC Independent Champion Andy Jordan Partner his father in a Honda Integra and take a solid second place overall. The fans were also given a chance to take part in a grid walk before the Start of the Endurance race given them a chance to get up close to the cars including Porsche’s, Ferrari’s, a Mosler, and a Dodge Viper. The Viper belonging to last year’s Britcar Champions Craig Wilkins & Aaron Scott who returned to take part after a season in the Blancpain Endurance Championship with their new Audi R8. Also joining them were the popular 2010 champions Witt Gamski and Keith Robinson along with John Gaw who were to eventually triumph after a close fought battle with the Viper.
However, it was to be the Bullrun team’s Lotus Evora of Richard Adams, David Green & Martin Byford who would take the overall Championship Title for 2012 after a consistent and successful campaign throughout the year.
The good thing about night racing is that I get to play about with light trails and as the evening drew in I got my chance. Trying different angles and places to see what worked and what didn’t. From both trackside and spectator area’s I was quite pleased with what I managed to get. It had even taken my mind off how cold it had become although I was looking forward to a coffee back in the media room.
It was a good day at Donington and a good opportunity to catch up with friends before the winter break sets in and an evening out in Derby with friends topped it off. There is another chance to see some more into the night racing though this season as Britcar head to Brands Hatch on the 24th of November when it is the Production Cup who get the chance to sample the night racing. If you want something to do that weekend then you could do worse than wrap up warm and head to Brands Hatch to sample the racing.
The four hour race report can be read on the Checkered Flag website here.
Having not shot a single race weekend in the whole of October and with a number of championships having finished for the season, I still haven’t finished for the year.
I know it is pretty much unheard of to have two weekends away from the track during the season so a whole month is unchartered territory. Various reasons have kept me away, including a well earned holiday comprising of just me, my bike and some awesome tracks in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. But I’m ready and rearing to go as there is one Championship that still has two races left and those two races are a little bit special. So if you are a motorsport fan I would recommend you check them out.
The MSA British Endurance Championship (Britcar) & the Production Cup head to Donington park this weekend. The first race of the Championship since the 24hr event at Silverstone sees the Endurance Championship compete in a four hour into the night race. It’s a unique race experience that many motorsport fans won’t have witnessed. It’s a bit like a mini 24hr race where you can experience the conditions of day and night racing but in four hours. It’s a definite charm to it and well worth going to check out.
As usual, the Production Cup will be there in support who will have their own into the night race later in November at Brands Hatch so there will be another chance to see the night time racing. With this weekend’s entry list boasting cars from the likes of Ferrari, Porsche, Mosler, Aston Martin, Audi and Marcos, it is sure to be an exciting event with some great racing. I’m really looking forward to it as last year’s into the night race was a great success.
On another note and following up from a previous blog post last week, my A3 calendars are now available to order from my website. The very limited edition calendars featuring images from the British GT, World Endurance Championship, GT Open & the Nurburgring 24 hour race is priced at £29.99 including postage & packaging. You can see the calendar and every months image as well as order your copy here: http://www.chrisgurtonphotography.com/2013_calendar.html
Most of you will know about my love for GT & Endurance racing & in particular my love for the British GT Championship, which this year in particular has proved just how fantastic it is, so it was with mixed emotions as I headed to Donington Park for the final round of the season. Excitement, as the Title would be hotly contested between the seven, yes seven teams still in with a chance of taking the 2012 honours, and Sadness as the exhilarating season was now coming to an end. You just knew the season would end on a high and the weekend didn’t disappoint. Even the FIA GT1 boys rocked up to take part in the weekend’s event to add a little extra excitement to GT fans like myself.
I like Donington Park as a circuit. Its undulating track provides many great photo opportunities and after a disappointing weekend behind the lens at Silverstone the previous weekend, I was determined to make amends and capture a good set of images. What’s more is that the racing was to take place on the full circuit at Donington and despite the numerous visits there I have never shot the full layout so I was hoping to get some new and interesting angles.
Concentrating on just the two GT series over the weekend, I headed out for the GT1 Qualifying session at the start of the day. The noise was just awesome, how I had missed the unrestricted engine noise and the rumble of the Mercedes SLS in particular. Despite only being a 12 car line up, there was still a nice selection of cars on show from Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini McLaren and Ford. Exploring the GP loop of the circuit during this session I tried to find a few different angles and I was enjoying this part of the circuit I had never shot before.
The first British GT practice session was used to get photos of the cars for a spotters guide that I was helping with along with the guys from l’endurance & Daily Sportscar much like the one we had produced for the Britcar 24hr. Thankfully the hour session enabled me enough time to get some side on shots of the cars and try and bag something a bit more creative at Redgate corner and further down towards the Craner Curves. The time passed pretty quickly and before long I was uploading the shots I had to my laptop back in the media room so the spotters guide could be completed. It looked pretty good even if I do say so myself and you can see it here.
The second British GT practice session took place before the lunch break so I headed out to the Melbourne Hairpin and the GP loop that I had been at to capture the GT1’s earlier to try and get the British GT cars in similar angles. I even managed to find a few new ones too. A quick break after that session and it was back out for the First of the weekend’s two GT1 races and I decided to shoot from the First corner and work down to the old hairpin by the end of the race. Thankfully the rain stayed away and the racing was good. I had got some photos in the bag that I was happy with.
The final session of the day was the qualifying for the British GT. I usually shoot this session from the pitlane as the cars come in and out frequently and this weekend was no different. However I was to regret this decision. Some friends came back into the media room after the session with photos of the cars with a glorious sunset backdrop. I knew the sun was setting, but didn’t realise just how good it looked behind the main pit buildings. Although I was happy with some of the photos I had got, I wished I had gone out trackside and caught the sunset.
Sunday kicked off with two warm up sessions for both the GT series. I shot these short sessions from the inside of Goddards Hairpin and the approach. Again, an area I hadn’t shot before so It was good to try it out. Even though it was mid morning, you could still capture brake discs glowing on the GT1 cars as they braked hard for the slow hairpin before the pit straight.
The second GT1 race took place that afternoon after the lunch break and I headed out to the far side of the circuit to cover the race from there. A big accident between the Ford GT and one of the BMW halted the race for about 40 minutes whilst repairs to the tyre wall was made and the cars were recovered. The race resumed and I shot from the Coppice and McLeans area of the track. However with about 20 minutes of the race to go, disaster struck. The two Championship contenders, the All-Inkl Mercedes of Marc Basseng and Markus Winklehock collided with the remaining Vita4one BMW of Michael Bartels and Yelmer Buurman on the exit of Regate. The latter impacted with the wall hard enough to dislodge the concrete and the session was red flagged whilst medical crews extracted Buurman from the mangled BMW. Thankfully he OK having been taken to hospital and kept in overnight. I then realised the concreted that had been wiped out was all that was separating the circuit and photographers trackside. It is an area that is popular with photographers and one where I have stood on many occasions. Thankfully no one was there at the time or there could have been a very serious outcome. It is times like this that you realise actually how close to danger you can be and you have to be aware at all times.
As I walked up to Redgate for the start of the final British GT race of the season, I could see the impact zone and the debris. The wall hadn’t been replaced properly and I knew I wouldn’t be standing there for the upcoming race. The pile of debris from the BMW scattered everywhere left a stark reminder of how dangerous motorsport can be, but thankfully the outcome was not as bad as it could well have been.
Putting all that to the back of my mind, it was time to concentrate on the big race. Seven cars in with a chance of Championship glory, five of which knowing all they need to do is win and the title is theirs. Add in the front two cars being non championship points scoring additions to the weekends grid which could put a spanner in the works of the overall outcome and the race was set to be a tasty encounter with the 26 car field represented by 14 different manufacturers.
From the off the gauntlet was laid down. Starting from 14th on the Grid, the Nissan GT-R, one of the 5 cars just needing the win to claim the Championship, with Alex Buncombe at the wheel was on blistering pace and within three laps had taken the lead and was pulling away. With the rest of the field battling away and the other championship contenders fighting to get near the front, Buncombe was stretching out a healthy lead. The other results were starting to look irrelevant as the Nissan was looking unstoppable and the win was all that was needed. At the pit stops Buncombe bought in the Nissan to hand over to Jann Mardenborough, last year’s Playstation GT Academy winner and hugely talented, with a lead of over 12 seconds. But disaster was to strike.
Just a couple of laps after the hand over, the left rear shock absorber on the Nissan broke. That was it. Game over for the Championship aspirations. It was gut wrenching stuff, and despite the RJN team fixing the issue and sending the rapid Welshman back out, they had lost far too much time and were a few laps down on the lead. With Nissan out of contention, this handed the current Championship lead to the MTech Ferrrari of Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron. All it needed was to hang on to current race position of fourth and they would clinch the Title by half a point.
But Allan Simonsen in the Rosso Verde Ferrari was to have a say in matters. A battle between the two ensued with Griffin clinging on to the vital place needed for the championship win and was only halted by the appearance of the safety car a couple of laps later bunching the field up. This meant that another title contender, the Ecurie Ecosse BMW, had closed in and was keen to snatch the honours away.
After the safety car had come back in and the field had bunched up, the BMW was keen to make up places for the points needed for victory. An audacious move from Ollie Bryant in the Ecurie Ecosse car at Goddards saw him dive up the inside from a long way back to try and take the place from the MTech Ferrari. Sadly he came from just too far back and made contact with his rival sending Griffin into a spin causing him to haemorrhage places from the bunched up field and with it the championship hopes had faded. This now meant the BMW was on course for the title with not long left in the race. But the upper hand in the title race was to be a short lived for the Ecurie Ecosse team as a one minute stop go penalty was handed out to them as punishment for the contact with Griffin.
This now meant the fourth change of championship leader in the race and this time the Motorbase Porsche of Michael Caine and Daniele Perfetti was to be the grateful recipient. Despite being fourth place in the race, the top two places were occupied by the two non points scoring cars of Alvaro Parente and Zak Brown in their United Autosports McLaren and the Lamborghini of Peter Kox and Nico Pronk. Third place was the second United Autosports McLaren of Charles Bateman and Matt Bell and although they too were Championship contenders coming into the weekend, they needed others to drop points and with the Caine and Perfetti car behind in Fourth, the points deficit was too much to be overturned. So Michael Caine only needed to bring the car home safely and the Title was theirs.
As the chequered Flag dropped, he had done it. Dave Bartrum and the rest of the Motorbase team were delighted. Probably not one of the favourites to win the title coming into the race despite being a real contender but it had showed just how close this season had been and it had all come down to the very last lap of the last race before the champions were crowned. Add to this the Motorbase Porsche had not won a race this season, the second year in a row that the eventual Champions had not won a race, you can see just how tight the championship battle had been throughout the season and that reliability and consistency are key.
So the British GT season has drawn to an end and what a season it has been. Truly Epic. There won’t be many championships this hotly contested and so close right down to the very last corner. With 15 different manufacturers having taken part and eight different winners from ten races, it is easy to see why this championship is a stand out event in the UK and Europe. Hopefully it will continue to go from strength to strength and be even bigger and better next season if that could be even possible. I for one cannot wait.
The weekend just gone saw the Britcar 24 hour race take place at Silverstone. Sadly the entry list was down on previous years which is disappointing for the most High Profile 24 hour race in England. Make of that what you will. But the racing was still close with a variety of cars from each class capable of battling for class honours and even an overall podium spot.
As per usual, I was in full support of the plucky Honda Jazz from Synchro Motorsport and this year the support was turned up an extra notch in light of the sad passing of Dave Allan. The Jazz still bore Dave’s name as tribute to the driver who had raced many times for the team and this year was sporting a Matt Black livery. Normally a look of disgust crosses my face when I see a Honda Jazz as they are normally holding up a queue of traffic as the pensioner in the driving seat hesitates way too often whilst trying to negotiate a roundabout or takes several attempts to park in an empty Tesco car park. But this Honda Jazz is different. Possibly the only Jazz in the country that isn’t owned by a pensioner and features a number of optional extra that prove it means business. I can’t help but give a wry smile every time I see it.
Sadly, the Jazz was disqualified from the race overnight. Amazingly, for breaking the set sound level’s for the race too often. Yes, you read that right. The Jazz was just too loud in a race including a GT3 Aston Martin and a Mosler! I was gutted. The car had been running quite well until the sound issues and I so desperately wanted it to achieve a good finish just for Dave’s sake who was no doubt watching on somewhere.
This meant I had to put all my support on another car. A car that had attracted my attention a few weeks back during the Snetterton round of the Britcar Production Cup. A car with a bit of previous history with some drivers who were a little more novice but fully deserving of a huge amount of support.
The Mission Motorsport team and their Nissan 370z were formed to bring together and aid the recovery, help rehabilitate wounded service personnel and aid the return to an active life. The driver line up consisted of; Major James Cameron, co-founder of Mission Motorsport who set about combining his love of motorsport and dedication in helping others who have been effected by experiences or injuries whilst serving their country, Trooper James Gillborn who lost a leg after standing on an IED in Afghanistan last year and can now add Racing Driver to his list of achievements during his rehabilitation period. Lance Corporal Martyn Copleston who was injured after the Armoured Vehicle he was driving hit an IED last year and Sergeant Gary Dunning who after a number of years service suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a huge motorcycle accident leaving him with massive injuries.
This was a team everyone was proud to get behind and indeed they did including Paralympian Gold Medal rower Pamela Relph who was there in support. I was really hoping they would have a good race and they were always one of the car numbers the media room checked on in the bank of timing screens. With the RJN Motorsport team behind them, the guys were doing a grand job with the Nissan.
Sadly, during the early hours of the morning, Disaster Struck. With the Nissan heading round Copse Corner, it was confronted by a Marco Mantis that was broadside across the track after a spin. Heavy breaking and quick reactions just weren’t enough to avoid a collision and impact between the two was unavoidable. It was game over for the Marcos, but the Nissan and the Mission motorsport team had other ideas. These guys just don’t give up. It is not an option for them. With the car back in the garage with damage that cause most teams to pull the garage door down and call it a day, the team set about the task of getting the car back out there. With a lot of team work and a spare road going 370z in the paddock that was cannibalised the job was done and the team were back out to the delight of everyone.
The hours passed and the Nissan continued on even during the heavy rain over the last few hours that was catching out the more experienced drivers and as the Chequered flag dropped at 3.30pm the Mission Motorsport team had achieved an impressive 17th place overall. It was a warming sight and to top it off, James Gillborn won driver of the race, nominated by the Radio LeMans team. It was Mission Accomplished for Mission Motorsport. As I stood on the Pit wall as the podium presentations were taking place, the Nissan was being pushed back to its garage and I overheard Major Cameron provide the best quote of the weekend. He turned to the woman walking back to the garage with him and said “Now, we must talk about this 48 hour super endurance race in Spain”
For More Information about Mission Motorsport, visit their website www.missionmotorsport.org where you can read more and even see onboard footage, including the moment of the ‘Incident’ at Copse.
This weekend see’s the final round of the British GT Championship at Donington Park. With seven teams in with a shout of the title, it’s going to be a big one. Oh, and you know it’s quite a big deal when the FIA GT1 guys add themselves to the support list! I cant wait.
Having spent the summer watching the incredible Olympians and Paralympians wow everyone with their achievements and putting most of us to shame, I decided I needed to get off my backside and participate in some kind of sporting activity. I guess this was the Olympic legacy that had been talked about.
So, it was time to get back into cycling. Well, Mountain biking to be precise. My old bike was getting on a bit and needed some work done to it. But rather than spending money on a bike that was over 10 years old, I thought I would treat myself to a 30th birthday present and buy a new one. Spending a while researching and looking for a new bike I eventually opted for a 2013 model, Specialized Rockhopper 29er. A lot of mountain bikes are now opting for 29 inch wheels over the standard 26 inches and although dubious at first of buying a 29er, after trying one, I was impressed.
With the new bike purchased it was time to set myself some targets. I needed to get a lot fitter, but ultimately I’d like to compete in some events. There is a winter race series in Thetford Forrest each year which I have attended before as a spectator. Four races, one a month from November to February with a choice of a four hour or two hour race and a leisure ride. Perhaps this was something I could take part in. Obviously I wasn’t going to jump in at the deep end so I was thinking about taking part in the leisure ride at the end of January and the two hour race in February.
This means I have a few months to get fitter and train for the target I’ve set myself. Having bought the bike at the beginning of this month I thought a target of 50 miles of riding a week for the first month and upping that each subsequent month would be a good start. At the moment there are still a few motorsport weekends I will be in attendance at so most of my cycling is done after work during the week. However, last weekend, I wasn’t trackside so took the opportunity to take my bike to Thetford to ride round the Forrest.
There aren’t many bridleways or tracks near my house, so it was a good opportunity to take the bike off road on the miles of Forrest tracks, fire roads and single track. With four different routes ranging in difficulty there was a lot of chance to put my bike through its paces. I spent the morning on the two easier routes, mostly tracks and fire roads. It was good fun and I clocked up 22 miles before I stopped for some lunch. After my break I decided to tackle the two harder routes mostly single track with berms, dips, jumps, pits, and more! The smile plastered across my face showed how much fun I was having. The only low point was being overtaken at speed by someone who was clearly more experienced than me and the realisation following that I had a lot to do to get up to standard for the winter series. But, in the mean time, I was just having great fun.
A few things I have remembered since getting back out on my bike though are a bit more concerning. I remember now how arrogant some car drivers can be towards cyclists. I don’t appreciate having my elbow hit by wing mirrors because the driver hasn’t given enough room when passing or just can’t wait to get by and squeeze between you and oncoming traffic. Also, a car driver wouldn’t overtake on a blind bend, so why do they think it appropriate to overtake a cyclist on a blind bend? Because, let’s face it, if a car did come the other way, all drivers are going to swerve left, into the cyclist and not right into the oncoming car. But I won’t get preachy on you. I love cars and I love driving, I just wish a few others would be more considerate. One thing we can all agree on though, is who died and left horse riders in charge of the roads? Many times I have ridden down lanes to be confronted by horse riders in the middle of the road, sometimes two or more abreast and been given the most filthy of looks!
It is safe to say though, I’m loving being out on my bike and the fact I’m getting valuable exercise without paying a fortune for gym membership. As I write this, I have had my new bike just over two weeks and I love it. Although I sometimes come home feeling knackered after a ride, I also come home feeling really good and that is a positive thing. As for my 50 mile a week target, well, after two weeks and a day, I’ve done over 160 miles. I’m even going to take the bike with me on holiday next month. There are plenty of tracks and Bridleways in the Yorkshire Dales and although I’m pretty sure the hills will kill me, I can’t wait.
In the meantime, the fact that my bike is missing a pair of wheels and an engine doesn’t mean my blog will take a change in direction and I will stop talking about Motorsport. Far from it. There’s still lots of track action to be seen before the season is over and next up this weekend is the Britcar 24 hour race. A highlight of my year and I am looking forward to it. Maybe I will see some of you there.
With two weekends away from the track, I have been at somewhat of a loose end. Thankfully the British Grand Prix and the GT1 & GT3 championships have kept me motorsport withdrawal symptoms at bay, but it has been a good time to get a few things sorted out before what will be a manic six weeks or so.
I had decided it best get my Telephoto lens serviced during my ‘break’ as I was beginning to experience a few niggly issues with it. I have had it a few years and it has taken a lot of abuse in that time and served me well, but it was beginning to struggle to focus on the shorter focal lengths and I had some intermittent problems with over exposure. So despite the cost, I bit the bullet and sent it off for a service to get the issues dealt with. There isn’t ever really a good time to fork out a lot of money but it needed to be done. Probably one of the many expenses incurred that a client or customer doesn’t really think about when enquiring about and sometimes questioning a photographers prices but I won’t go it to that now.
Having been told the initial service turnaround time was 2-3 weeks, I was surprised to have a phone call just 4 working days after dropping off the lens at Sigma telling me it was ready to be sent back. I was pretty pleased as I was worried there was a chance I would be without the lens this coming weekend at Brand Hatch. The issues seem to be resolved now so I look forward to having it working fully ahead of my impending busy schedule.
As well as getting the lens serviced I used this down time to re-design and update my website. It had been neglected somewhat so was due a spring clean and a sort out. My design and website building skills are somewhat limited but I seem to have managed ok and I’m relatively pleased with how it is looking. I am never fully satisfied but considering my ability with this kind of thing, the end result isn’t too shabby and initial reactions seem positive. I have added a few new pages and features and now images from the motorsport events I cover over the year can be purchased as prints and a calendar will keep you updated on which races I have been at and will be attending this year. So feel free to check out the site www.chrisgurtonphotography.com
Towards the end of the month I have a couple of Equestrian events I will be covering. So it has been a good time to get things sorted out for this too. As I print images onsite at these events it was time to order in paper, mounts and the dreaded ink! This is a huge outlay for me and although I should more than recoup the costs after the event it is never a good feeling making a bulk order when initial funds aren’t overly healthy. I always print on high quality paper and use the original best quality Canon Inks that go with my printer. I never use the cheap refill type inks as my Dad ruined a printer of his using cheap alternative inks despite my warnings. I believe in the best quality for my customers despite the extra costs to myself. I will never know for sure but apparently the chromalife ink I use is guaranteed for 100 years. I guess that can’t be bad and I know my prices are very competitive. I’m looking forward to the equestrian events and I really hope the weather is favourable.
So on to this weekend and I will be at Brands Hatch on the GP loop again where the Britcar Endurance series is supporting the International GT Open and F2 championships. There is a full programme for the weekend and I am really looking forward to it. The following weekend is one of the great highlights of my year. The Silverstone Classic. The biggest race weekend of the year with over one thousand classic race car entries and a few thousand more classic cars on display. It’s well worth a visit, especially for the Group C Dusk race on Saturday evening.
The two three day equestrian events then follow before we head into August and three back to weekends at Snetterton. I don’t think I will have time for my Birthday in the middle of that but it should all be good fun.
Finally, I’m giving away a few A4 prints to my Twitter followers this week and to those who like my Facebook page. Follow the links on the right of this blog to my Twitter and Facebook pages to find out more and you could get a free print for yourself.
It is with great sadness that I learn of the death of David Allan this week whist testing a car at Millbrook.
The Honda racing driver competed in the 2001 & 2002 British Touring Car Championship with Synchro Motorsport and more recently with the same team in the MSA Britcar Championship in their Honda Civic and the much loved Honda Jazz.
He will be missed by many and I send my best wishes and deepest sympathies to his family and friends.
Rest In Peace Dave.
With my Nurburgring trip now seeming like just a distant memory and my screensaver acting as a constant reminder of great the place really is, it was time to head out for my first race trackside since the German 24hr race.
It was the Britcar Endurance and Production cup races at Brands Hatch on the Indy Circuit last Saturday and as much as I like Brands Hatch I couldn’t help but think that Druids didn’t have quite the same lure as the Karussell and that Paddock Hill wasn’t that steep in comparison. But I can’t shoot at the Nordschleife every weekend so I was just happy to be trackside again.
However, tales of the trip and the race in the media room, along with Guy Povey’s BMW still bearing the Bilstein and Gran Turismo 5 stickers from 24hr Epic, my withdrawal symptoms from the Green Hell weren’t being eased. I even spotted an Audi Sport Team Phoenix sticker in the pit lane. I had suggested to James that he sat in the media room and played the Nurburgring Pitlane siren that I have saved on my laptop every time he saw a car come down the pits. That place had really had an effect on me, much like an ex girlfriend you have very fond memories of. I was beginning to worry myself somewhat.
Thankfully, once the sessions on track had started and I was out with my camera I was soon back in the swing of things. Despite the gloomy and slightly damp start to the day the weather improved and by the afternoon the sun was beating down. I had prepared for rain so it was inevitable.
A new edition to the Endurance grid was a Ginetta G50. This had caught my eye. Not only was it red, but it was covered in Kit Kat advertising. To my surprise, whilst taking a few photos of it in the garage a team member approached and handed me a Kit Kat. I gratefully accepted the chocolate then thought to myself, ‘These guys can come again!’
With the sun out and the afternoon’s racing upon us, the Production Cup race took place. The 90 minute race was a competitive affair and a noticeable addition to the driver line up was Andy Jordan in the Eurotech Honda Accord who was standing in for his father Mike whilst he was racing with the Jones twins in their Mercedes SLS at Silverstone for the Blancpain series. The production cup race was eventually won by Michael Symonds in his Orange BMW M3. Photos of the Production Cup can be seen on my Facebook Album or on my Flickr page.
Soon the Endurance race was up and running. A two hour race this weekend as opposed to the usual three and the field look great in the sun that was now high in the sky and causing me to get a sweat on. I’m not sure about other photographers but I’ve noticed that cars with bright or unusual liveries always seem to catch my eye when I’m shooting races and the Red Kit Kat Ginetta was no exception. So here’s a tip if you enter a race car into a series. Paint it a bright colour, I’ve found Yellow is the most effective, and you will probably find that it will get photographed a lot. As with the Production Cup, the Endurance race was another captivating affair. I like Brands Hatch as I can tune my pocket radio into the radio station and listen to the commentary whilst trackside above the engine noises and follow what is going on. It’s always handy, especially in endurance races when the field soon gets spread out. I wish all circuits broadcast on a radio station like this. Silverstone is the only other one. Anyway, the race victory went to the ever impressive Mosler of Javier Morcillo and Paul White to increase their championship lead. More photos of the Endurance race can again be seen on my Facebook Page and on my Flickr Page.
Next up for me is Round 3 of the British GT championship at Rockingham. I’m really looking forward to that this weekend. I think I’ve conquered my withdrawal symptoms now. However, the last time I photographed the British GT championship was at………..
This Saturday was round three of the MSA Britcar Endurance Championship and Production Cup at Snetterton. Naturally I was in attendance and looking forward to a great day’s racing.
Despite the rain on arrival, it did clear and although the sun came out it was still cold. I managed to catch the sun which and I remain adamant that Snetterton has its own micro climate. However, there was no further rain after the brief early shower which was good enough for me.
The racing was good in both the Production Cup and the Endurance Championship with both being joined by new entries. The full race reports can be read at the Checkered Flag website by just clicking the following link: The Checkered Flag.
So from Norfolk, It’s on to the Nordschleife as this week I head to the Nurburgring to shoot Round two of the British GT championships and of course, the 24hr race on the ‘Green Hell’. It will be my first visit to the iconic German Circuit, in fact I’ve only other experience of Germany was a brief stop at a service station as we passed through on our school coach coming back from Austria. I’m pretty sure this visit will be a lot more exciting. I will be heading there overnight on Tuesday with some friends and thankfully two of whom have been to the 24 hour race before. Unfortunately for them, they will have to put up with me turning into an excitable ten year old for the week as I cannot wait!
Hopefully I will try and sort out my data roaming package on my mobile phone so I can still tweet with random mutterings, the goings on, photos and of course my experience as a Nurburgring ‘Newbie’. So why not give me a follow on Twitter? You can do so here. Also I will try and update my Facebook group page and of course I will try and Blog when I can as well.
That’s all from me for now, I need to crack on with my packing.
So my motorsport season has officially started. A trip to Silverstone to cover Round One of the MSA Britcar Endurance Championships saw the year get off to a good start. The early fog lifted and the sun shone to kick of my coming year behind the lens in great fashion.
It’s great to get back after the off season and to catch up with friends and fellow photographers. Its always nice to see what has been going on over the winter too. New teams, cars, drivers and liveries are finally on show as everyone is keen to show their hand and what they are capable of over the next eight or so months.
The Britcar series is always one I am very fond of. I love endurance racing and the atmosphere is always great. It’s nice to talk to teams and drivers in a slightly more relaxed environment than that the bigger series. However that is not to say it is any less competitive. The Motionsport team lined up with a new Ferrari 458 in their white and blue livery which looked great. I’m looking forward to them getting their full Aero Package on it. Bullrun and their drivers including last year’s BTCC Driver Martin Byford launched their assault on the title with a new Lotus Evora, as did father and son pairing Peter and Matt Smith in a new Ginetta G55. The merger of last year’s two Mosler teams meant they were to be a force to be reckoned with again this year and they were all joined by championship regulars such as the Topcats Marcos’ and the Intersport BMW. Even the SR2 Rapier had received a new Martini Racing style livery for the new year.
Another addition to the series was the Production Cup. A 90 minute race series for production cars. This saw a great field of various cars from Honda Integra’s and Seat Leon’s to Ginetta G40’s & Mazda MX5’s. It also had attracted well known drivers such as ex BTCC star Mike Jordan in a familiar Integra and Karl Breeze and Tom Howard in a Ginetta G40. The racing proved to be close and very exciting. The Cunningham’s Seat Leon Supercopa, a team who were regulars in last year’s Britcar series, led for most of the race, only to be passed by the quick BMW M3 CSL of Richard Abra and Mark Poole for victory. But there were battles throughout the field to keep the fans entertained.
It is always difficult to tell how good a spectator turnout there is on the GP circuit at Silverstone as it is so vast, however there did seem to be quite a few, helped by the glorious weather. They wouldn’t have been disappointed with the racing in the main three hour endurance race either. A close three way fight before the first round of pit stops between the Mosler, Rapier SR2 and the Paul Bailey Ferrari 430 was an exciting affair. However as with all endurance racing, it isn’t all about raw speed but reliability is a huge factor as the Bailey Ferrari was to find out. Radiator issues cost them dearly and whilst it was looking set to be a grandstand finish between the Mosler and the SR2, the Rapier also succumbed to issues as electrical problems saw them stop out on track in the last half hour.
That left the Mosler to win outright with the second placed Marcos Mantis taking class two honours for Topcats. The Evora won class 3 and Steve Gugliami’s Lotus Elise took the spoils in class 4. It was certainly a great weekend and a great way to kick off my year. Next stop, Brands Hatch for round one of the BTCC.
Production Cup race report can be seen here.
Endurance race report can be seen here.
So it is now upon us. The Motorsport season is here after a long winter of waiting. Of course there are some series that have already started, such as the World Touring Car Championships and the British Rally Championships, but for many, the first Formula One race of the season really marks the new season.
With new rules and regulations, new faces, teams and cars on display throughout the various race seasons, there is no doubt 2012 will be a great year filled with action, excitement and controversy. No matter which series is your favourite, who your favourite driver is, and which cars you like best, all motorsport fans long for this time of year to arrive. We’ve had sneak peeks of new cars and liveries, driver announcements and got our heads around any new rule changes and we just want the season to start.
My first race of the season won’t be just yet though. It will be round one of the MSA British Endurance Britcar championships at Silverstone on the 24th of March. A race series I enjoy covering and one that has seen some changes this year. The new production championship will be running alongside the series, and new class categories’ for the endurance races. New teams and cars will be lining up and I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the new Bullrun Lotus Evora. With a 90 minute production race and a 3hr Endurance race to take place on the grand prix circuit at Silverstone, it is set to be a good way to kick off my season. If you are keen to get out and watch some great racing then I would recommend heading to the home of motorsport on that Saturday.
For me the start of the new motorsport season is a bit like going back to school to start the new year after the summer holidays. But in a good way. Meeting up with friends to swap stories of the closed season and share predictions for the year ahead, catching up with teams and drivers to get information on what’s new and their hopes for the coming year and seeing what changes have been made to circuits and facilities etc.
Having filled in my calendar with dates of race weekends I’m hoping to be covering this year, there aren’t many blank weekends. Although I won’t be going to Le Mans this year, which I am disappointed about, it has been sacrificed for a reason. Two reasons in fact. The first being the Nurburgring 24hr race and the second being the Spa 24hr race. As I have never been to either of these iconic circuits for these two amazing races, it would be rude not to go and I can’t wait. The British GT series is running a European round at the Nurburgring the weekend of the 24 hour race which works out nicely. I will cover the British GT and stay for the quite mental 24 hour race. A similar situation occurs at Spa. The British F3 championship will be holding their race in Belgium the same weekend of the 24 hour race so for a huge endurance racing fan, this has worked out well.
On the subject of endurance racing, there has been some major developments in this discipline over the winter months. The new World Endurance Championships looks set to be a great series. However the news that Peugeot has pulled the plug on its endurance racing team comes as a disappointment for most fans. I will admit to not being a huge Peugeot fan after some disappointing race tactics I have witnessed, but I am sad to see their withdrawal. The French Marque are probably the only team who could challenge Audi and it now looks like the German’s will go unchallenged all season. The reforming of Toyota is of some comfort but it would be unrealistic to expect them to be challenging for overall victories in their first year. Also the recent unveiling of the new ‘Deltawing’ car set to take part in the 80th Le Mans 24 hour race this June is a radical new innovation within motorsport. Could this be the future of endurance racing? I guess time will tell. I’m not a big fan of the design myself though. If Batman was to own a race car, I’m pretty sure this would be it.
So it’s time to settle into the new season of motorsport as Formula One from Melbourne is beamed to our TV’s and the 12hrs of Sebring takes place across the Atlantic and take comfort from the fact that motor racing is here. It’s good to have it back.
This weekend I spent some time creating a video slideshow of images I had taken at the Britcar 24hr race at Silverstone last October. Ok, so I’m not great at creating stuff like that and it did take me a while to do, but it is finally done.
However, whilst selecting images to use in the video I spent a lot of time going through the photos I had take. I came across a photo that caught my attention which it hadn’t done before. The more I looked at it the more I liked it. It may not be to everyone’s taste but after looking at it for quite a while and making a few tweaks in Photoshop, I really like it. There were a few other photos that had initially caught my attention before as being quite good but up until this weekend the photo in question wasn’t one of them. Subsequently it is now one of my favourites from the race. I guess it pays to go back and look at photos regularly and you might just spot something that you didn’t notice before.
Anyway, I’ll let you cast your own judgement on the photo and let you decide if you like it or not. It is of the race winning Eclipse Ferrari 430. As for the video, you can see it below.
Last weekend I was photographing the Britcar into the night race, my last circuit race of the season. I have one more motorsport event to cover with a trip to Rockingham for the Rockingham Stages Rally. I’m clinging on to dear life to the remainder of the season but I have to accept defeat and let it go soon. I’m left with the frightening prospect of not having much to do at weekends until it all starts again next year.
The Into the night race was at Brands Hatch and was a three hour endurance race starting in the daylight at 3.30pm and finishing in the dark at 6.30. I really enjoy covering the Britcar races and it’s great to shoot at night too and get some cool light trail photos. This event also featured the first Britcar Production Cup race which will hold a full season next year. The idea is to produce great racing for production cars, with a one and a half hour race and qualifying session in one day and low entry fee’s this is aimed at encouraging those on a budget into endurance type racing.
I was really pleased to see such a great turn out from spectators at this event. Having been covering a number of race weekends this year, with the exception of the BTCC, I have always been disappointed with the seemingly poor spectator numbers. With tickets far cheaper than a premier league football match for a whole weekends worth of entertainment and children’s entry for free I don’t see why more people don’t come along to motorsport events. There is always great action whether it is the British GT or smaller club events. I guess the Into the night format appeals to many with the feel of a 24hr race in just one afternoon. It was good to see Britcar supported well and with an exciting calendar lined up for next year, I hope many more people will come along and see the race series next year.
The title was almost sown up before the race with the Dodge Viper of Aaron Scott and Craig Wilkins just needing to start the race to claim the Championship, which they did before mechanical trouble struck. The Barwell Motorsport team had entered the new look Ginetta G55 GT3 and promptly put it on pole only to suffer a driveshaft failure at the start of the formation laps. Another disappointment came in the form of the Honda NSX. A great car which suffered at Donington earlier this year and has not been entered since so it was great to see it back at Brands Hatch even if it was only for the practice and qualify sessions in which it went well before falling Victim of mechanical trouble and being forced to withdraw from the race. The full race reports from the Endurance and Production categories can be found on The Checkered Flag website here, and a few more images can be seen here.
So with only one more event to cover, I look back on what has been a great season of motorsport. I now have a chance to spend some time working on other projects of which I’m sure I will keep you up to date with. In the meantime I am pleased to tell you that some of my images are available on my website in print form which you can find them here. A selection of BTCC, British GT, Blancpain Endurance and Classic/Historic racing images can be purchased and until the 6th of December you can get 20% off orders using the code Discount20.
Last weekend saw the annual Britcar 24 hour race at Silverstone, the premier 24 hour race on UK soil. Once again the entry list was full of a whole host of car makes and models from the front running Ferraris, Moslers and Porches, to Honda Civics, BMWs and a Smart Four 4.
I was there covering the event for the Checkered Flag taking photos whilst the three other team members were providing Hourly Updates and live feeds online. You can check out our coverage and race report here.
The weather was incredibly favourable, unlike last year and the sun was beating down on the circuit. The crowds were gathered in large numbers which was great to see as It is a superb event and deserves all the support it can get. I’m sure those who were there will agree that they were treated to a spectacle. I love covering the 24 hour race as I can get photos from a whole host of places and in different lights. I really enjoy trying to get evening light trail shots too, and although I didn’t get the fantastic red sky in the evening I did last year, I did get a nice sunrise. Also, shooting a 24hr race gives you plenty of time to muck about with your camera and try new things, new angles and find new spots to shoot from. I spent some time in the pit lane too which is always fun trying to get some good shots whilst dodging expensive race cars. You can see a bigger collection of photos from the race on my Facebook group here.
As with all endurance racing, reliability is key and this year was no exception. A number of class four cars finished in the top 10 beating their quicker and more powerful rivals and the Aquilla, which was setting blisteringly quick times, about five seconds faster than anyone else, showed its vulnerability and a host of problems dropped in down the timing screens. As the race headed into the midday sun of Sunday, it looked like it would be an exciting climax between the Topcats Racing Mosler and the Eclipse Motorsport Ferrari 430. However, disaster struck for the Mosler with about four hours of the race left to go and whilst leading when a stuck throttle caused the car to career into the tyre wall at the end of the Wellington straight ending its hopes of victory. It was a bitter blow for the Topcats team who were recovering from having their team base broken into and almost everything stolen. Tools, wheels, tyres, spare parts etc. Pretty much the only things left were the car chassis. It was a great effort to see them on the grid and get everything ready and it was good to see their other two cars, a pair of Marcos Mantis’ finish very respectfully.
This year saw a team of Gadget Show presenters tackle the 24hr race on a simulator from one of the garages. Running in sync with the race on track, Jon, Jason and Polly drove a state of the art gaming simulator. I’m not sure how they got on but I’m sure you will see it on the TV. I cannot recommend the event highly enough and it is well worth going to next year. So don’t miss out.
I’m back at Silverstone this weekend for the British GT and Blancpain endurance series which will be great and then after that, on the Sunday night I head off to the Isle of Mull for the Mull Rally with Andy Rowe and Cat Lund as part of their Support Crew. I cannot wait for that and it will be a great new experience for me which I will share when I get back.
This weekend my Alter Ego will be off to Rockingham to photograph the British GT and F3 championships after a couple of weekends away from being trackside and it can’t come soon enough.
I say alter ego because as a photographer I am a different person to the one in my day job. Unfortunately my day job is totally different to being a photographer and I like to keep the two very separate. So much so that my boss doesn’t really know what I get up to at weekends and neither does any other people I come into contact with at work. Whereas over time I have become to despise my day job for many different reasons, I love my photography and being trackside so I like to keep them apart. I always look forward to being trackside, photographing great cars and racing and catching up with some good friends I have made during my time as a motorsport photographer. Whereas on the flip side, I dread going to work especially after a great weekend behind my camera. I am currently looking for another job but that is a whole different story!
It has been a little while since I was last taking photos of the Britcar championships at Snetterton and since then my main camera has been sent off to the Nikon repair centre which turned out to be quite a farce. I have developed a slight scratch on the filter in front of my sensor which is sometimes noticeable on photos. Very much like dust spots, it is more noticeable on photos where a slower shutter speed is used. Whilst not totally ruining the camera it is still somewhat annoying and something I was hoping cold be fixed. Having sent the camera off, I had to wait over a week for Nikon to tell me they had received it and that a quote would follow soon. A few more days passed and I had eventually received a repair quote. A whopping £1,700! This was unexpected as I thought the filter could be replaced easily. Needless to say I did not go ahead with the repair and I am still waiting for the camera to be sent back.
In the mean time a new camera has been purchased which I will be putting through its paces at Rockingham. It will be my second visit to the circuit this season having been there for Britcar in April. It’s a unique circuit, run on an oval and infield section, that divides opinions but I don’t mind the circuit. The fact that it is hosting the return of the British GT series, after a long break, means I’m looking forward to it even more as you all know how much I love GT racing.
So whilst I will be heading into work tomorrow with a heavy heart, my thoughts will be on the weekend and one of the few things that helps me through each day. Also, it is just one month to go to the Britcar 24 hour race. I cannot wait!
The come down after a great weekend can leave you feeling pretty low, likened in ways to a hangover after a good night on the town. Today is one of those days.
This weekend was spent at Donington Park photographing the third round of the MSA Britcar championship. The 4 hour race was the longest of the season so far. That in itself makes for a great weekend in itself, but the support race line up made it very special indeed. The Mazda MX5’s were there as usual and the 4two cup made its debut, but the Dutch Supercar Challenge was also on the bill along with the Pièce de résistance, the BOSS GP.
For those of you who haven’t heard of the BOSS GP, it stands for Big Open Single Seaters. It is a racing series open to ex Formula One, Champcar, Indycar, GP2 and World series cars. Although the at racing wasn’t an official championship round and the entries had dwindled somewhat, there were still some awesome cars in the field, such as a pair of 1997 Benetton B197’s, a 1995 Tyrell 023, a 1998 Tyrrell 026 Cosworth and my all time favourite a Jordan 191. The car that a sprightly young man by the name of Michael Schumacher made his formula one debut in back in 1991. My childhood memories came flooding back to me of days as a nine year old I would sit in front of the TV transfixed by these amazing machines whilst listening to Murry Walker scream excitedly and a calm James Hunt offered words of wisdom. Never did I think that some 20 years later I would be watching as one of these cars would scream past me for real just a few metres away. My excitement however did change somewhat, as I began to worry that one of these gorgeous machine’s, the Jordan in particular might crash and would resign it to a museum or even worse, the great scrap yard in the sky!
Another great race series was the Dutch Supercar Challenge. Not a series that had registered on my radar, but it certainly left a great impression. Mainly because the Dutch are a bit bonkers! This is clear as you walk through the support paddock and see the mechanics with their head under the bonnet, a big cigar in mouth, a spanner in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. It is also quite clear when you see some of the cars that are entered. Split in to two race categories, the Sport Division and Supersport II division, with cars varying from Clio’s to BMW’s and Seat Leon’s to Ford Focus Sports, and the Supersport I and GT divisions that see the likes of Porsche 997’s Aston Martins, Corvette’s and Mosler’s. There were even a few Ford Mondeo’s in there. Well, I use the term Mondeo loosely, they may look like the Ford Saloon, but in fact they are just plastic body shells that house rear mounted V6 engines. It becomes clear that it’s only the body shell that defines a lot of them as underneath houses a space frame and whatever the biggest engine the crazy cigar puffing, beer swigging guys can fit in. My ears were drawn to an extremely loud rumbling and roar coming down the pit lane as an Audi A6 with a huge V8 growls by. Bonkers! Four hour long races with mandatory pit stops provided great entertainment.
Speaking of entertainment, but on a whole different level, as the first ever 4two cup, a race series for Smart cars. Although not particularly quick, the short wheel base and relatively tall height, they were partial to rolling over. In fact, two rolled in the first qualifying which bought out the red flag on both occasions as Marshalls pushed them back onto their wheels before they continued on their way. A third roll came in the second of the two scheduled races but as the race wasn’t going to be stopped, it had to sit on its side on the inside of Riches corner until the chequered flag came out.
As for the Britcar race itself, the main attraction, it was a race that didn’t disappoint. However, if you want to read the reports then they should be on The Checkered Flag website, with photos soon. Unfortunately I can’t make the next round at Thruxton as it clashes with a small race I’m going to again in France, you may have heard of it, it’s called the Le Mans 24 hour.
More excitement for me to come this week though as rather than watching the racing, I’m off to pretend I’m a real racing driver as I go karting with the guys from Tin Tops UK in Brentwood on Wednesday evening. I’ll report back with news on that later this week!
It’s been a busy weekend for me as It was my Brother’s wedding on Saturday. It was a great day, the weather was fantastic, the church and marquee looked brilliant and much fun was had. It all went smoothly including the set up and clear up.
I won’t bore you with the details as more importantly, in terms of this blog, I was back trackside at Snetterton on bank holiday Monday for the MSVR F3 Cup, GT Trophy and MSVR Team Trophy. It’s only been the second time I’ve been there since the new layout and you all know I had my doubts as to whether I like it or not. However, its less scruffy, the grass is growing and although there is still a lot of work to be done, it seems to be improving. I have also found some good spots for taking photos from. I’m still not sure about the new corner names though! I should be back there again later this month for the British GT and F3 championships so let’s see how the first major series on the new layout goes.
The F3 cup was dominated by Aaron Steele, much as it was in March when they were last at Snetterton. With 2 pole’s, 2 fastest laps and 2 race wins, Aaron led both races from start to finish. It was another dominant performance in the GT Trophy as Leon Price and Rob Barff had entered a new Ferrari 458. It was the first time I had seen one on a race track and it blew the opposition away. Leading from start to finish in each race it took both race victories. Disappointingly there were only 9 entries in this event so the field was somewhat sparse. Aaron Scott was taking part in a Ferrari 430 and took third place in race one but failed to make race two due to a clutch failure. He told me that it’s still early days for the GT Trophy and the fields should grow in the near future, the sister GT Cup series attracts large fields so hopefully it will be a matter of time before more take part in the two diver Trophy series. Let’s hope so as you will know by now how much I love GT racing.
The other race series at Snetterton was the Team Trophy. Run by MSVR the Team Trophy is a two driver equivalent to the Trackday Trophy. Both of these series are run for novice racers as a cheap way of getting into motor racing. The vast array of cars taking part makes for some interesting action from Clio’s to BMW’s and Mazda MX5’s to Porsche’s. The days 40 minute race was won by Dan Surridge and Julia Penfold in an MG ZR190.
This weekend I head off to Donington for the third round of the Britcar Championship. Its going to be a full race weekend with support races from the Mazda MX5’s, The Dutch Supercar Challenge, the first ever Smart 4two cup race and the BOSS GP. I’m really looking forward to The BOSS GP as BOSS stands for Big Open Single Seaters and includes a field of ex F1 cars including a 1995 Tyrell 023, a 1991 Jordan 191, a few Benetton’s and a couple of 2000 and 2001 Arrows alongside a few Champcars and Indycars.
Unfortunately, a few teething problems arose this season within Britcar as this year they are now running under the MSA banner. A few rule changes have been made after the season has started and timetables changed with little notice. Hopefully they are just that, teething problems and these can be sorted out without too much issue. The field within Britcar is looking strong and I hope the series will only continue to grow in stature. The last thing I or anyone else wants to see are teams leaving the series due to goal posts being moved halfway through a season.
I was going to write about the BTCC at Thruxton but to be honest, I think I should just leave it. Yet again Plato blamed his race one puncture on the Turbo Powered cars and then saying it’s a total joke. The only joke is his ridiculous moaning!
My humble mutterings have gained some recognition. As you may well know this blog was nominated to be part of an online survey by Longlife Exhausts to find the best car blog.Thanks to the guys at Tin Tops UK who made the nomination, Trackside Views made the list of 20 in the vote. Amazingly, by voting close this blog came out top by just two votes. Therefore I would like to thank all of you who voted and enjoy reading my thoughts. I hope I can continue to bring you an enjoyable blog which you will all continue to read and hopefully some more recognition will follow. A special thanks goes to Tin Tops UK for not only their initial nomination but their continued support along with my good friend and fellow motorsport photographer Pete Mainey.
Not a lot else has happened this week for me as I was unable to attend the Season opener of the British GT and F3 championships at Oulton Park. Those who know me well will know I particularly love GT racing and this year’s line up is super impressive. Audi R8’s join the grid along with a Corvette, Mercedes SLS, a Ferrari 458 and a pair of Lotus Evora’s in the GT4 Category adding to the existing cars the field is awesome. It was the reigning champion Trackspeed Porsche that took the race one lead whilst the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458 took the honours in race two after starting from the back. It looks to be a close battle for the title again this year and I can’t wait to be shooting them all again when they head to Snetterton for round two in a few weeks.
Before then, I will be off to Donington again for the third round of the Britcar championships the weekend of May 7th and 8th and on May 1st I’ll be at Snetterton for the MSVR GT Trophy and F3 Cup. It always seems like an age since I was last trackside when I have a weekend when I’m not so I can’t wait to be back out there. I wonder if my opinions of the new layout at Snetterton will change.
In the mean time there is a small matter of a wedding that will be happening. I’m not talking about a balding bloke called William and a posh girl called Kate, I am of course referring to my Brother Tim’s wedding to Sophie. It is the day after the Royal wedding and although I’m not bothered about Friday’s festivities, it is handy to have been given the day off before my brothers big day. I’m going to be an Usher so I will be having to scrub up well. I’m not sure what is expected of me apart from handing out matchday programmes at the church and driving my brother there. To be honest, my Astra Estate isn’t going to look great with a ribbon on it, but I’ll give it a clean. I’m hoping the weather stays nice as the reception is in a marquee and it will be good to be able to be outside too.
It’s going to be a good bank holiday weekend for me and I can’t wait. Not sure how much I will remember afterwards though. Whatever you are doing this weekend, I hope you have a good one, and if anyone will be at Snetterton on Monday, come say hello if you see me about.
It was an action packed weekend of motorsport and high drama all round. The Chinese Grand Prix was an exciting affair with Lewis Hamilton halting Sebastian Vettel’s early dominance and Mark Webber overcame a disappointment in qualifying with a great drive to claim third spot on the podium. Also, it was great to see Mike Conway win in the Indycar at Long Beach after recovering from his huge accident last year.
As for me, I was at Rockingham on Saturday for the second round of the MSA Britcar Endurance Championship before heading to Donington for rounds 4, 5 & 6 in the British Touring Car Championship. It was a great race at a Sunny Rockingham with the Eclipse Ferrari 430 taking the win after battling it out late on with the MJC Ferrari for the honours. The race reports can be read at The Checkered Flag and although they have not been posted as I write this, they will be available very soon.
So on to Sundays action at Donington which gives me the topic of conversation in this blog post. I am talking about driving standards. There were so many incidents in both the BTCC and the Ginetta Junior’s both this weekend and the season opener at Brands Hatch that have bought the issue of the standard of driving in to question. There were a number of incidents during the racing and qualifying, including Jason Plato rolling his car three times after going off and hitting a bank which left drivers and teams alike extremely upset with lost points and thoughts of what could have been.
On Monday, fan favourite Paul O’Neill expressed his feelings on Twitter saying he was embarrassed to be a touring car driver, before stating that he and the other drivers were role models and should be giving a good impression. Also, the team boss of Ginetta Junior team Hillspeed has spoken out and condemned some of the driving standards in their series as totally unacceptable.
We all know that there is a certain amount of contact that takes place in touring cars and other race series but how much is too much? No matter who is involved, you all must agree that being punted off by someone charging up from behind you as you brake for a corner because they want to gain a few places is hardly fair. However, some of the incidents arent solely due to drivers being overly aggressive.Some have been caused by lack of awareness by drivers who are turning in on cars beside them or not being quite aware of what is going on around them. This also brings up a subject that I touched on in a previous blog about certain drivers. There are a lot of them who buy their way into a race series because of the money they can bring to a team despite their obvious lack of talent. Surely all drivers in the top race series need to have a proven track record. As for the Ginetta Junior drivers, the culprits seem to be those who have rich parents that are willing to fund their desire to be the next Lewis Hamilton despite showing little or no race craft knowledge. If they want to drive around smashing into people then may I suggest a far cheaper option of visiting the local funfair and having a go on the dodgems and leaving the racing to the talented youngsters with a desire to win fairly?
I don’t want to ruin the excitement and ban all contact but the line has to be drawn somewhere. It is unacceptable for someone to barge past others to gain a place without a care about putting the others in the gravel. I hope that something can be done to make it fairer with penalties such as grid drops, points deductions, points on licences or even race bans as punishments to eradicate poor driving and help separate the wheat from the chaff. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject so feel free to leave a comment.
All the race reports and news can be read on The Checkered Flag website along with some of my photos from the weekend so feel free to head over there.
Finally, if you like my blog, please vote for it in the poll held by Longlife Exhausts to find the best car based blog. Voting can be done here and I’d be very grateful.
It’s been a little while since my last blog but to be honest, surprisingly I haven’t had much to talk about of late. I will just say at this point how glad I am that I have not been blinded and I still have my eyesight. Those of you who know me or follow me on twitter will know that last weekend was my Brothers Stag Do and we went paintballing. I’ve never been paintballing and have never had any urge to do so thanks to that famous episode of Byker Grove where PJ got blinded. OK, so I was young and TV can be quite impressionable but it scared the hell out of me and have never wanted to go paintballing because of it. However, it was a great day, despite a few bruises, I really enjoyed it and I can still see!
So on to this weekend and It will be a busy one for me. I will be covering round two of the MSA Britcar Endurance Championship at Rockingham on Saturday, and then I will head off to Donington to cover the BTCC on the Sunday. Amazingly, I have never been to either of these circuits thanks to other commitments and events going on etc so I look forward to it. You can be sure I will bring news from the weekend in my next blog.
Most people know about the BTCC but maybe less so the Britcar series. I cannot emphasise enough what a great series it is and is well worth going along to see if you fancy watching something different to the high profile events. Over 50 cars have registered for the series this year and 44 took to the track at Silverstone last time out. There are two categories, the GT class for the big Moslers, Ferrari’s Lamborghini’s and Porsches among others and the Production class for cars like M3 BMW’s Seat Leon Supercopa’s Honda Civic’s and Lotus Elise’s. A great selection of cars are on show and some really close racing throughout the field can be seen. If that wasn’t enough, tickets are cheap and the atmosphere is great, particularly at the 24hr race that takes place at Silverstone in October. For those who didn’t know, it was the Britcar 24 hour race that the Top Gear guys took part in a few years ago in the diesel BMW.
The draw of large series events is huge and it is good to see the crowds at motorsport events, but some great racing can be seen in a lot of other smaller series that don’t get the television or media coverage that some do. Who knows, you could be watching the superstars of tomorrow at these smaller events. So here’s a challenge to those of you who love to watch live motorsport. If you have a free weekend and are not sure what to do, why not head down to your local circuit to watch one of these smaller race series in action. Something that you may not necessarily be aware of. With so many different race events taking place each weekend you are sure to find something that takes your fancy. With adult tickets costing as little as £10 it is a very good value day out.
Finally, Trackside Views has been included in a list of top car blogs by Longlife Exhausts. They want people to vote on their favourites, so if you like my ramblings, then feel free to cast your vote here.
On Saturday I was at Silverstone photographing the first round of the MSA Endurance Britcar championship on the full Grand Prix circuit. You can read the qualification report and both GT and Production race reports along with seeing a few of my photos here.
It was a great race and there were some fantastic cars on show, but it was a yellow Seat Leon that was one of the hot topics of conversation in the media centre and around the garages. It was driven by four Women who won a competition run by Seat UK and TV programme fifth gear Called Seat Sex Drive. Now, I had heard of the competition but wasn’t too sure about what it entailed. Having read a little bit about it and talking to a couple of people on Saturday the competition pitted men against women. The winning team would then go on to gain their race licences and compete in the 2 hour race at Silverstone. Now at this point you would have thought the competition was about driving ability and racing. But no, it seemed to be ridiculous tasks like who could clean the car the best and reversing around corners. Ultimately the women won and they gained their racing licences ready to compete.
So onto race day and a few eyebrows were being raised. This was to be the first time they have ever raced so is it really wise to let these four women with no race experience out on track with Ferrari’s, Mosler’s, Lamborghini’s and the like? Not only did this seem rather stupid but also highly dangerous too. The women themselves seemed unfazed however as talk in their Garage seemed to focus on whether it was better to plait your hair or have it in a ponytail whilst wearing a helmet.
Qualifying came and went and the Seat failed to post a time. It was on track, as I witnessed it almost collide with two cars who caught up with it very quickly after pulling across the racing line in front of them. It seemed to be trundling around causing a mobile chicane for everyone else.
Starting from the back of the grid, the race got underway and the Yellow car set off at a somewhat casual pace. It didn’t take long before it was lapped. They hadn’t even passed the start line twice before the lead cars had put a lap between them. The prize winners were painfully slow. In fact, it was starting to become an embarrassment. As cars were streaming past them lap after lap the pace didn’t seem to pick up at any point as the women got used to the car. They were breaking so early for each corner they had to take their feet of the brake pedal 50-100 yards before they reached the point to turn in.
Amazingly, the highlight came when the Women were given a drive through penalty for pit lane speeding of all things! Even the race commentator found it highly amusing. Also, as the production class ran a two hour race along with the GT class running a three hour race, the Sex drive team were given a black flag for continuing after the chequered flag. Finally the women finished and were unclassified as they were a full 15 laps down with an average speed of just 61mph. I reckon I averaged more than that during the drive up to Silverstone!
I’m not against women in motorsport, far from it. There are some great female race drivers at all levels who are extremely competitive and very talented, from younger racers like Sarah Moore and Louise Richardson who have excelled in Ginetta’s to oval racers Pippa Mann and Danica Patrick to Endurance racer Vanina Ickx. I like to see a good mix of male and female drivers and its good to see great women drivers on track giving the men a run for their money. The real issue I have is awarding a prize like this to people who clearly aren’t that interested or have any ability when it comes to racing when there are thousands who would love to be given an opportunity. It has been a total flop and quite frankly Seat UK should be embarrassed, because I certainly was. Apparently the women were coached by Fifth gear presenter Vicky Butler-Henderson. Was she there to support them on Saturday? No she wasn’t. She was probably sparing her blushes and keeping well away. If only the four competition winners did too.