Trophy of the Dunes
This weekend saw the British GT championship head to Europe for rounds Eight and Nine at Zandvoort in Holland for the ‘Trophy of the Dunes’. So, naturally, I was there too and a great weekend was had.
Having got the overnight ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, myself and my travel companions, Photographer Tom and Adam along with Journalist James, arrived at the circuit after a 50 mile drive on Friday morning. None of us had visited Zandvoort before but the formalities of signing in, getting our passes and photo bibs was no problem and we had found our way to the media centre without any issue. There was a lot of racing on the timetable but we were only there to cover the British GT, however we decided to use an early Dutch Supercar Challenge session to give us a feel of what the circuit was like.
Thankfully any red zones, the area’s that photographers are not allowed in for safety reasons, were clearly marked and the circuit was fairly easy to navigate round. The trouble with visiting a new circuit is that you can never be too sure where the good angles are and a lot of time is spent hunting them out and trying different spots to see what works and what doesn’t. This was definitely the case this weekend and the two 55 minute practice sessions were spent in various sections of the track trying to cover as many area’s as possible.
The Circuit is right beside the sea with the beach just a few hundred meters behind the main grandstand and the track weaving between sand dunes. Static caravans and a bizarre Centre-Parcs which seemed to be a tower block of apartments provided some of the backdrop that the dunes didn’t. The undulations helped provide some good angles and perspectives on the 2.676 mile circuit and the sand below our feet was certainly a change from the norm at a race track. The weather was humid and dry for the first session but the locals had said it can be changeable. This was proved right as the skies darkened and the rain fell before the second practice session at the end of the day. As the cars took to the track the rain did ease but standing water in some area’s did prove some challenge for the drivers.
As the day drew to an end, it was time to head to the apartment we had booked. It was only a mile or so from the track and in the town. This was handy as although we spent a long time walking around trying to find a supermarket, we didn’t have too far to go. It was good to see there were a couple of British TV channel’s on the TV including the BBC. The evening was spent drinking beer and eating burger and chips while looking through the days photos and deciding where to go for the other sessions during the weekend.
Saturday arrived and the Qualifying session was first up. I headed to the far side of the circuit to shoot this and the view from the top of the hill was pretty good. The weather, albeit humid, was cloudy and during the qualifying session there was a light shower which made for some interesting qualifying times for the races. It was going to make for some interesting racing.
Race one was to take place at the end of the day so there was quite a wait till then but the time was filled with photo editing and watching some of the other racing taking place throughout the day. I had decided to head out to the far side of the track again but work my way back the opposite way to which I did earlier during qualifying. The racing was good but I couldn’t help feel like I struggled somewhat with my camera. I just wasn’t feeling happy with some of the angles I was getting so spent a lot of time moving around. This also led to myself almost bumping into a startled deer amongst an area of long grass and bushes. Luckily it didn’t run onto the track. The race seemed over a lot quicker than the one hour and I was left a little disappointed with the photos I had taken.
Sunday was a new day however and after an evening of watching the delightful Rachel Riley on Strictly Come Dancing I was hoping I could make amends and get some good images. The overnight and morning rain had stopped just in time for the 10 minute warm up session which I spent in the pit lane.
There were a couple of sections of the circuit I still hadn’t explored which I had planned to visit during the second race. The rain had gone and the sun was out ready for the second GT race and I had decided to capture the start on the outside of the first corner. I was a long walk to get there but thankfully a guy in a golf cart took me most of the way. I knew I would have to walk a long way back to get to the rest of the race from the area’s I the wanted to be, but I was hoping the start shot that would take in the whole of the long pit straight would be worth it.
I had spent the first few minutes of the race at the first corner before the long brisk walk back to the area’s I wanted to get to. I had sacrificed about 15 minutes of shooting to get the start shot so needed to make the remaining time count. Again, there was good close racing on show and I was feeling happier behind the camera and quite pleased with some of the results. I had just got to the last place I wanted to be before the end of the race and was feeling more content. The circuit was great and I think if I was to visit again I would hopefully get a bit more out of myself knowing now where some of the good angles are.
We left the circuit late afternoon to head back to the port to get the overnight ferry home. It was the end of a good weekend that I had enjoyed and spent in good company. Holland is a really nice country and everyone was very friendly, plus they do good chips too so I hope to visit again soon. Maybe the British GT championship will be back next year.
To read full race reports from the weekend, visit the Checkered Flag website here.