The thoughts of Chris Gurton on motorsport, his photography, his work and his life in general. The thoughts, views and opinion's expressed in this blog are those of Chris Gurton and not necessarily those of any publication that he contributes to.

Posts tagged “World Endurance Championship

Baying for a Crash.

It’s now become quite obvious that if you are an organiser of a mainstream motorsport championship or event and you want some coverage in the national media, then all you need to do is get someone to have a big crash. If the driver involved in that crash is a popular ex Formula One driver, then all the better. You’re guaranteed a few column inches somewhere in the back pages and even an article on the BBC’s ‘Formula One is the only form of Motorsport’ website.

Sadly, this seems to be the only way the FIA World Endurance Championship can get any coverage in the British Media. Mark Webber’s huge accident in Sao Paulo on Sunday make it on to the BBC website, thanks to the loose Formula One connection, and also into a few national newspapers. I even heard it mentioned in the sport on Absolute Radio’s breakfast show. Those of you who saw it will have winced and be extremely relieved that Mark is OK. It’s a testament to safety in sports car racing that people can walk away from such impacts.

There must be better ways for Porsche to get some publicity of their World Endurance team?

There must be better ways for Porsche to get some publicity of their World Endurance team?

But what really annoys me is that despite the media coverage, I have not seen a single report from these national news outlets that has mentioned the winner of the race. Porsche’s name is all over reports as the car Webber was driving, but no one mentioned that the second Porsche car in the race took victory. Not only that but after a titanic battle with the number 8 Toyota which saw the two cars split by just 0.170 of a second after six hours of racing.

On the subject of the number 8 Toyota, where were these journalists desperate to grab attention with pictures and news of a devastating crash that could have claimed the life of a racing driver, when just two weeks ago, the drivers of said Toyota, the Swiss Sebastien Buemi and British racer Anthony Davidson claimed the World Championship? A British driver winning a World Championship and no one was interested in reporting it.

Image: Chris Gurton Photography

Anthony Davidson: A British sporting World Champion the media aren’t interested in.

Sadly it’s the same for that great motoring institution, Rallying. You don’t get any media coverage of it unless a spectator is sadly injured or killed. As was the case with reports from the Jim Clarke rally, and this tiny piece on the BBC sport website about the Grizedale rally which thanks to really poor reporting suggests an incident far worse than that that actually took place.

I’ve been at touring car races where crowds cheer when someone crashes. I’ve spoken to people who have stated they only like motorsport when there are crashes. How would these people like it if they were involved in an accident on the M25 and witnesses stopped, got out of their cars and started cheering? Is this really the mentality of people these days? Is it what people want? Is that why the media love a good crash story because it gets more attention? I really hope not. We all know the situation with Jules Bianchi so must realise that accidents and crashes are a serious matter.
Surely as motorsport fans we all want to see close and exciting racing. Crashes don’t really add to the excitement. Having been at LeMans when there have been two particularly nasty accidents, the silence of a quarter of a million spectators is chilling. The only cheering was when news that in both cases, the drivers were ok. Sadly that isn’t always the outcome.
We all know motorsport is dangerous. Competition is close and drivers push themselves to the limit and sometimes beyond, so accidents will inevitably happen and thankfully, those baying for crashes are in the small minority of fans. But the mentality of these people needs to change and the media needs to do its bit in helping that and not encouraging it. So please stop with the ‘Crashes make good stories’ attitude. Oh, and BBC, Formula One isn’t the be all and end all of motorsport, there is so much more out there. You can’t even get the rights to show a full season of F1 live so how about investing a bit of money in showing other live motorsport?

 

Rubens: Always happy!

Rubens: Always happy!

I guess the only positive to come from the Mark Webber accident is Rubens Barrichello’s instagram photo. I’m pretty sure if Rubens was to visit you in hospital he’d do a pretty good job of cheering you up. But is it just me, or does he look like an excited expectant father about to witness the birth of his and Mark Webber’s bizarre but superhuman love child?


WEC Silverstone Review: Toyota Wins Opening Race!

 

Image copyright: Chris Gurton Photography

Toyota claim the first victory of the 2014 WEC season.

 

6 Hours of Silverstone – the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship – was dramatically clinched by Toyota, who skilfully kept their cool despite the torrential rain.
Although the race was ended early due to torrential rain, Team Toyota, which consists of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Lapierre, not only left Mark Webber’s Porsche and both of the stunning Audi R18 e-trons in their wake, but they also clinched the win from their sister team too, Alexander Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima.

Considering the difficulty of the weather and track conditions, the legendary Mark Webber seemed content with a podium place on his debut WEC race, sharing the glory with Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley. In comparison, this year’s Silverstone was Audi’s worst performance in 3 years.

Image copyright: Chris Gurton Photography

Audi were to have a disastrous race.

Audi’s Gamble
Straight from the green, Audi’s Lucas Di Grassi set off at a record pace, immediately attacking Alex Wurz of Toyota in his TS 040 Hybrid. This excitement was short-lived for Di Grassi however, as he took the Club Corner too wide towards the end of the first lap, allowing Sebastien Buemi of Toyota to claim second place. Porsche were also disappointing towards the end of the first lap, with Neel Jani dropping from third to sixth position.

Image copyright: Chris Gurton Photography

Neither Audi R18’s were to finish the race.

Running into traffic on lap 14, Toyota’s Alexander Wurz lost first place to Andre Lotterer, and Audi has their first lead in the race. However Audi decided to gamble while other cars were being called into the pits for wet tyres, and soon after Di Grassi crashed heavily into the barriers, sliding off the track at Woodcote. The Audi driver managed to get the R 18 e-tron back to the pits for some quick cover , however with a damaged monocoque the car was too badly damaged to continue the race, with Di Grassi looking understandably devastated.
Webber’s Return
It wasn’t just Audi that experienced car damage at Silverstone either; Porsche’s Neel Jani suffered severe tyre failure and subsequently lost his left wheel, but after 15 minutes in the pit Porsche successfully retuned to the track. Audi’s day continued to go from bad to worse however, as Andre Lotterer lost 25 seconds to Sebastien Buemi after sliding off the track at Stowe. Finishing sixth overall after a lengthy stint in the pits, Lotterer and Audi certainly had 6 hours to forget at Silverstone.

Image copyright: Chris Gurton Photography

Mark Webber was to pick up a podium on his Debut WEC race on Porsche’s return to the top category in endurance racing.

Timo Brenhard was replaced by team mate Brendon Hartley after Porsche’s 52nd lap pit, with the New Zealander showing his talent behind the wheel by hauling the R 18 e-tron back to fourth. With three hours to go, WEC Silverstone then settled into the traditional endurance test, and it really was anyone’s race. However Audi’s bad luck wasn’t quite over, with Treluyer hitting the barriers at Copse and bending both front wheels.
After 21 minutes of the safety car, Porsche’s Hartley pitted and gave up the seat to the fan favourite Mark Webber, allowing the Australian his first taste of WEC racing in 15 years. As the final two hours of Silverstone positioning remained the same, the rain made conditions unsafe to say the least, with the safety car came out once again, followed by red flags stopping the race.

Image copyright: Chris Gurton Photography

The number 7 Toyota was to claim second place behind its team mates.


2013 Calendar

Every year I create a Calendar for my Dad as his Christmas present. I think he likes them which is just as well as this year will be no different and he will be getting another one. An A3 poster Calendar with some of my photos I have taken during the season.

Last year I had two printed and gave one to a good friend of mine. I think he liked it too. I took to social media to help try and decide on the design of the calendar and some people asked if I was going to sell them. This wasn’t my intention but it did make me wonder if it was a possibility. I didn’t produce any more than the two I did and left it at that.

A sample of the 2012 Calendar I did for my Dad.

This year I have taken to twitter again with a first draft for the 2013 calendar and feedback seems to be quite good. A number of people have stated they would like one. However I know showing an Interest is a lot different to actually buying one. Thoughts have been going through my head as to whether it is viable to actually get some printed to put on general sale.

Although, this does bring with it a number of issues. Getting calendars printed isn’t cheap. Unless of you buy in bulk. I don’t want to buy in bulk as I don’t want to be left with a box full of Calendars that I can’t sell. Also, how many people who say they are interested in buying one, but then don’t when it comes to parting with their money? So I can’t really judge how many I would need to get printed. I know I am not going to sell hundreds, but I don’t want to order too few and miss potential customers.

The 2013 Calendar could well look like this.

This leads on to other issues. Obviously I want to make a profit from the Calendars. So pricing becomes difficult. I know I am more than likely going to have to order in very small quantities on a ‘per order’ basis. This means the production costs will be quite high and therefore sales price will probably be around the £30 mark. Are people really going to pay that much for a calendar? Yes it would be an A3 sized calendar with a big picture on each page but when you can pick up calendars in a shop for less than a tenner, am I likely going to sell one for three times that price?

Another Issue I have is making it appealing. My dad seems pleased with the calendars I have done in the past but would they appeal to other people? I want this Calendar to be of GT and Sportscars as I feel this has been the body of my best work this season. A selection of images from British GT, World Endurance Championship, GT Open, FIA GT1, the Nurburgring 24 hour and possibly one or two Classics too. So how do I pick which ones to use? I have found it quite hard in previous years and quite time consuming.

I personally feel that my GT & Sportscars images are my best work this year.

So this leaves me with some kind of solution. I am throwing it open to you. I need feedback, and responses, Idea that may be of use and even help picking the final images you’d like to see in the Calendar if you were to want one. So get in touch, spread the word, share this with your petrolhead friends and others who may be interested. I’d love to hear from you and maybe I can make this a real possibility. But be quick. Time is running out.

You can see albums of images I have taken over the year  on my website gallery here or on the Chris Gurton Photography Facebook page here.

Thanks, Chris.


A Fantastic WEC-End

After three weekends in a row at Snetterton, my next three race weekends were going to be at Silverstone. Although rather than three back to back it will be three in five weekends. The first of these weekends was to be the World Endurance Championship. As an Endurance racing fan it was going to be a great weekend and would go some way to making up for the fact I didn’t go to Le Mans this year.

I had never photographed Le Mans Prototype cars before, not as accredited media anyway and there were a lot of rules to adhere to. A photographers briefing was held on the Saturday morning and all photographers had to attend in order to be allowed a photographers bib. This wasn’t a bad thing as it provides as a reminder as just how dangerous being trackside can be. Also, to be allowed in the pit lane you needed fireproofs overalls, a helmet and a special Pit Lane bib. These bibs were limited and thankfully a managed to reserve one for the Saturday Practice session and the middle two hours of the six hour race.

Cars were preparing to head out for Saturday Practice when I arrived in the Pit Lane.

The practice session was to be the first session I would be shooting, so I donned the overalls I had borrowed got my gear sorted and headed down to the pit lane. Rocking the bicycle helmet look, I stepped out of the garages into the pit lane as the cars, teams and drivers were preparing to head out.  Mechanics rushed about, drivers were getting strapped in and engines roared into life. For a second or two I had almost forgotten why I was there as I soaked up the atmosphere. The cars were beautiful, the noise was music to a petrol heads hears and the surroundings were great. Ok, so I wasn’t at the Circuit de la Sarthe, but it was good enough.

During the session I busied myself taking photos, walking up and down the pit lane, looking for which teams were preparing for a stop so I knew which cars were coming in and I knew where to head for to get photos. The time flew by and the session drew to a close. The Audi Garage had drew a lot of attention and as the Number 2 car had been pushed back into the garage, the Number 1 car had come in. The team used this time to practice driver changes. I used this time to get photos of the Le Mans winning car and drivers in the form of Benoit Tréluyer, Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer as they leapt in and out of the magnificent R18 e-tron Quattro whilst mechanics glided around removing tyres and replacing them effortlessly as Leena Gade, the number 1 cars race engineer, manned the stop watch. After half a dozen or so pit stop practices the car was wheeled away and the rain started to fall. I took this a cue to head back to the media room to see what I had managed to capture.

German Efficiency: The Audi Pit Stops were perfect.

James could tell by the grin on my face as I got back to my laptop that I had been enjoying myself and I was. I couldn’t wait to head out trackside for the qualifying session later that afternoon. Thankfully by then the rain had stopped and the track was drying. I headed out to the Village Loop to capture the two short qualifying sessions. One for the LMGTE classes and one for the LMP classes. With the GT classes qualified the LMP cars headed out. On their first flying lap it was instantly obvious just how fast they were. They stuck like glue to the track through Abbey and Farm Curve looking aggressive yet graceful. As the session ended I couldn’t wait for the race on Sunday.

The LMP cars were incredibly quick through Abbey and Farm Curve.

The cars were spectacular

The day wasn’t over yet though. With no more sessions to photograph, whilst in the media room, an invite for all media to join the Strakka team for Pimms and Scones in their garage and 6pm was handed out. Also, soon after, another invite came. This time from JRM for drinks, food and the opportunity to chat to the team and drivers in their hospitality unit. Not one to pass up the offer of free food and drink, I, along with some other media friends headed down to the Strakka garage to take up their kind offer. They were very welcoming and were more than keen for us to drink plenty of Pimms. The JRM team were also very welcoming as were their drivers, Karun Chandhok, David Brabham & Peter Dumbreck. Happy to chat and answer questions it was a great experience and a fine end to the day.

Sunday started early with a 20 minute warm up session. It gave me an opportunity to get a few more shots before the main race. It also meant I experienced the superb photographers shuttle service. A few minibuses were laid on for photographers to get around the circuit and whilst onboard I was given the phone number of the driver and told to call when I needed a lift somewhere and he would get someone to come and pick me up. After the warm up session I used the number and sure enough, within 2 minutes a minibus arrived to pick me up and take me back to the media centre.

Etienne Stott and his Gold Medal

The morning soon passed and the cars and teams began to form up on the grid. It was time to head out, beginning with some time on the grid. Whilst taking some photos of the cars and teams during their preparations, I came across Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott, The British Canoe Slalom Olympic Gold Medallists. Tim was posing for photos with some girls and seemed to be enjoying the attention. I began to wish I had a Team GB tracksuit, but I had caught Etienne’s eye and I asked if I could take a photo. He was more than happy to oblige and posed with his gold medal. He was very pleasant and I was somewhat in awe of what who I had just met. The weekend was getting better and better.

As the grid cleared I headed out trackside. I took up my position at the loop to shoot the start whilst listening to the commentary from Radio Le Mans. John Hindhaugh was doing a great job of building the start up and you could feel the tension in the crowd build. The safety car peeled off and the six hours of Silverstone was underway.

I spent some time shooting the race around Village and the Loop section of the track before jumping on a minibus to get around to Luffield. Time was passing quickly but I was trying to get in as many different areas as possible. As the end of the second hour drew near it was time to get back to collect my pit lane bib for my two hour time slot. A quick call later and I was soon getting back into the overalls and putting on my helmet. The Pit lane was pretty busy and I needed to keep my wits about me. I couldn’t get in the way of any of the teams and risk ruining their slick pit stops so I had to be alert, especially as the Hybrid cars were eerily quiet whilst coming in and exiting the pits.

The Toyota Hybrid was eerily quiet in the pit lane.

Before I knew it, my time in the pit lane was up so I handed back my bib, got changed and headed back out to trackside. There was something quite comforting about listening to John Hindhaugh’s dulcet Geordie tones and the rest of the Radio Le Mans team as I shot these incredible machines. The weather had stayed dry and by now was quite warm. Despite some difficult times of late, I was feeling quite content. I was beginning to wish it was a 24hr race not just 6 hours.

I had got round to the final corner to capture the Chequered Flag which I did, but not exactly how I had hoped. I guess it’s up to the drivers themselves where they place the car on the track not the photographers envisaging the shot they want. Thankfully I was in the right place to cross the track and get to the end of the pit lane for the podium.  I took up a spot on the tyre barrier next to two young boys waving flags and cheering for their dad, who just happened to be Alan McNish. The area was packed with teams, crew, VIP’s and photographers as the trophies were handed out and champagne was sprayed.

The podium celebrations bought a brilliant weekend to a close.

The end of the weekend had made its appearance and as I was packing up my gear I had a chance to let it all sink in. It had been a superb race and an incredible weekend which I had thoroughly enjoyed. Sometimes my life isn’t too bad.

For race reports and news from the weekend, check out The Checkered Flag website. Images from the weekend can be seen on the Chris Gurton Photography Facebook page, and prints of the photos can be purchased from the Motorsport Galleries page on my website http://www.chrisgurtonphotography.com