PictureSports Blog ...
I'm a photographer, motorcycle rider, blogger and thinker of irrelevant thoughts. The chances of my blog containing thoughtful commentary on the state of the world is highly unlikely.
Hopefully coming here is a refuge from such things and my meandering thoughts will bring you some enjoyment.
For 2017 I'm taking a year off from editorial photography. Instead, I'll try and ride my motorcycle as much as I can while working on client specific projects, both on and off track.
If you wish to contact me, the links at top and bottom of the page will help you or you can follow the motorcycle blog at Confessions of a Born Again Biker.
If you have not yet discovered the Donington Historic Festival, then you are in luck. This coming weekend (30th April to the 2nd May) sees one of the most impressive collections of classic, historic, F1 and Touring Cars gathered together for three days of competitive-yet-amicable motorsport, anywhere in the country.
I’m biased, though. Cars without sophisticated electronics, where the driver has to work every aspect of the car, are my “thing” – not to mention the event’s at Donington, one of my favourite circuits.
Donington’s fast-flowing corners seem to bring out the best in race cars of all types. Handling is more important than power – but power helps. Chatting in the pits to a driver who had just swapped a more powerful 4-litre engine for a 3-litre with a more progressive torque curve confirmed this theory. Despite the reduction in power he was going faster; the change in weight distribution was making the car turn better.
But, as normal, I’m already wandering off topic. The Donington Historic Festival or DHF is on over the holiday weekend 30th April to the 2nd May. Now in its 6th year, the 2016 Festival features 17 races over the three days plus all the normal qualifying sessions.
As well as the inspiring cars dating back beyond the 1950s, this year’s event also includes demonstration runs from some spectacular F1 cars on both the Saturday and the Sunday.
The newest of these cars, the Jordan EJ12, is from 2002. Add to that Michael Schumacher’s 1992 Benetton B192, and the 1990 Camel Lotus 102 that was raced by Martin Brundle.
Representing the 1980s will be the 1983 Williams FW08 as raced by Keke Rosberg, Jean-Pierre Jarier’s 1983 Osella FA1-D and two Tolemans, the 1985 TG-185 (Teo Fabi) and 1984 TG-184 that was Ayrton Senna’s regular test car.
I do wonder what "art work" the owners will be running on 1977 Hesketh 308E that was driven by Rupert Keegan. It was while Keegan was driving for Surtees that Durex were the sponsors. The 1977 Hesketh was sponsored by Rizla Cigarette papers, Penthouse “Gentleman’s” Magazine, along with British Air Ferries (BAF), the airline owned at the time by the Keegan family. Two out of those three may not be politically correct, but they are very much part of racing heritage, so I do hope they have stayed with them.
Should the howl of early F1 cars not be your thing, then perhaps the DHF can tempt you with the Touring Cars that started the whole BTCC movement that you see today.
Colin Turkington is racing in the HSCC Super Touring Car Challenge driving Steve Soper’s DTM BMW M3 while John Cleland is also in the mix, racing a Vauxhall Vectra (naturally).
Rickard Rydell’s 5-cylinder Volvo S40 machine will return to racing after 17 years, driven by Jason Minshaw, accompanied by a who’s-who grid of 1980 and 1990 touring cars.
Add to all of that historic F2 cars, a dedicated e-Type Jaguar race, a two-hour endurance race for 1964-71 World Sportscar Championship Sports, Touring and GT Cars and a plethora of other machinery that even includes a race converted Morris Minor “Police” car and I ask you, in all seriousness, what else are you going to do this holiday weekend?
Go to B&Q?
Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson won the first round of British GT4 Championship in the PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport Ginetta. Anna Walewska and Nathan Freke finished second for Century Motorsport with Jordan Stilp and William Phillips made it three G55 GT4s on the podium.
The perfect weekend for the PMW Expo team who also had time to create a video, "walking" you through a hot lap of the Brands GP Circuit.
It is normal for the English to make jokes about the weather. It is a national obsession, to the point that we’re even suggesting that the snow following a very wet Silverstone on Friday and Saturday was actually Scottish weather.
It isn’t the first time that we have had such inclement weather at this time of year, but it would be the first time that a session of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) was cancelled due to snow. Watching the cars tiptoe their way around Copse corner, normally a 140 mph+ right-hander at Silverstone, was a surreal experience.
After a few spinners brought out the red flags, the Race Director made the decision not to pull them back in and the photographers joined the Marshals in the numerous hiding places from the weather around the circuit. Having gathered under the grandstand at Copse for a while, race control then decided to start the Porsche Carrera Cup race scheduled for late on Saturday using Championship places rather than run the qualifying.
A lot is said by circuit commentators about Marshals, they always get a thank you and you will often see drivers waving their thanks on slowing down laps. They do what they do because they enjoy it and when you enjoy something the weather isn’t always that important. Still, do spare a though for the Marshals who, unlike me, can’t wander back to the press room to hunt down a cup of tea. They just stick around until the racing is done, come rain, sun or even snow. The photo is of Anne doing her “You Killed Kenny” impression.
The good news about changeable weather is that it plays about with the light. There is a long explanation about dust particles being removed, the refraction of light through water and all kinds of other factors, but the bottom line is when the weather changes so does the light. Catch the light at the right moment and the results can be inspiring, which helps when you are getting frustrated at the sponsorship signage around the circuit.
The sponsorship, in part, makes the event happen and so the sponsors are a vital part of the whole package. They do their homework, too, and ensure that their signs are in all the right places. The MotorSport.com signs for example may seem to be in an odd spot at the end of the straight where there is no grandstand to see them; they are, however, in the background of hundreds of European Le Mans Series, WEC and Porsche photos. The keen observes will have noticed that it is not raining in this photo. Something of a rare moment on Friday and Saturday.
And so to the races...
Porsche Carrera Cup was two wins for Dan Cammish, followed in second and third on both occasions by Dino Zamparelli and Charlie Eastwood respectively. Despite the same result in both races, don’t think they were boring – far from it. Saturday’s race was a journey into the unknown; qualifying had been cancelled and Sunday’s race was held under clear blue skies and sunshine. The Redline Racing teammates spent lots of time in close company and there was even a spot of “rubbing is racing” in a few of the corners. At least the results on the track were the actual results.
European Le Mans Series – Where to start? LMP2 and the overall podium went to the #38 G-Drive Racing car driven by Dolan, Tincknell and van der Garde who were followed home by #32 SMP Racing BR01 and #22 S024! Ligier. The LPM3 class has #2 United Autosport car taking the win, followed by their sister #3 car in second and #9 Graff car in third. A total Ligier JS P2 – Nissan engine lockout on the podium. So far so good. You win on the track and you are the winner.
GTE – The class win, on track, went the way of the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari GTE, right up until the point that it was excluded from the results when it failed a post-race technical inspection. The win therefore went to the #99 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage which was then followed home by Richie Stanaway in the #96 Aston Martin. I say “followed”, it limped across the line on three wheels, following contact with the #56 AT Racing Ferrari, who managed to bring their car home fourth. The Stewards, however viewed it differently, and handed out a five-minute time penalty, which reversed the positions between #99 and #56. With the #66 car being excluded, the final, final result is #99 Aston Martin, #56 Ferrari and then the #96 Aston Martin.
World Endurance Championship – The winner on the day was the pole-sitting #7 Audi driven by Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler, followed home by the #2 Porsche driven by Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb. However, when Bernard Cottrell (Race Director) tweeted that he was just off to get “Chinese for the Troops” on Sunday evening, something was up. Sure enough the news breaks that the plank under the #7 Audi was worn and the car had been excluded from the results, promoting Porsche to the top step of the podium. Come Monday morning and a statement is released by the Audi team saying:
“Audi Sport Team Joest has appealed against the exclusion of winners Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer. Hence, the result of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season opener remains provisional.”
“The Stewards of the Meeting received a report from the Technical Delegate explaining that the thickness of the front skid block of car no. 7 doesn’t comply with article 3.5.6 a3 of the LMP1 Technical Regulations. Audi Sport Team Joest has appealed the decision to exclude the number 7 car from the results. Hence the race result will depend on the decision of a sport tribunal.”
And that was just the first WEC weekend. Roll on Spa
To say that Britcar has has a impressive start to the year would be putting it mildly. A lot of hard work over the winter resulted in over 40 cars starting Round 1 of the Dunlop Endurance Series (aka "Britcar") at Silverstone over the Easter weekend.
The schedule for the rest of 2016 is just as impressive with races for the Britcar Production, Endurance and Protoypes across the UK and at Spa Francorchamps. Exactly how many Red Bulls Claire Hedley has been drinking is a mystery and if you are wondering what all the fuss is about, here is the trailer for the TV coverage from Round 1, which airs on Motors TV at 6.55pm on the 22nd April 2016.
If you prefer your racing in live rather than on TV, the next round which features all three Britcar classes is at Snetterton over the weekend of the 7th and 8th May.
By the way, those very accommodating people at the RACSPA (the organisers for Spa) have confirmed that ... "the noise limit is 110 DB in dynamic, 15 meter from the middle of the track" ... for the Spa Round, which means that all Dunlop Endurance, Production and Prototype cars are eligible.
Superbly Sunny Sunday and I’m at Donington Park photographing the BMCRC – “BEMSEE” - Motorcycle races, which includes the F1 & F2 sidecar races which are something of a personal favourite.
There is something wonderfully awkward about sidecar racing. Three wheels, only one of which steers, constantly changing weight distribution, different lines to the solos and you can’t lean the “bike”, unless you lift the 3rd wheel in the air and that only works for right hand corners.
Sadly, I don’t get to cover these as much as I would like. I can hear the fake sympathy now, when I say that next weekend I have to return to Silverstone to cover WEC (World Endurance), the ELMS (European Le Mans Series) and the brilliant Porsche Carrera Cup GB, which comes without an acronym.
But, back to motorcycle racing. Some of the bikes racing in the BMCRC Championship this year are works of art and are being ridden by people who know what they are doing. Making Coppice, the corner that leads on to the Exhibition straight at Donington, one constantly accelerating bend, rather than two (or sometimes three) corners does take skill and confidence in the machine.
Pots of money is not required though if you wish to race. Getting involved in racing an MZ 250cc (yes MZ not TZ) with the British MZ Racing Club (BMZRC) and you are unlikely to need a fortune. The German 250cc single cylinder motorcycle has been around since before Barry Sheene won his first World Championship and hasn’t changed much in all that time. The most complicated electronics on the bike are likely to be the compulsory rain light and the battery that powers it. Yet, don’t be tempted to think that it will be boring.
Watching the race on Sunday and Peter Woodall is the man to beat, winning both races by a comfortable margin, on equipment that is comparable to everyone else’s. Reading the Technical Regulations, all two pages of them, and they clearly indicate that having a large budget isn’t going to get you further up the grid. What is needed is a blend of being able to ride well, manage the momentum and having half an idea about setup. I say half an idea because there isn’t much that the regulations will allow you to change. The tyres used in qualifying by just one of the MotoGP teams will most likely cost more than an entire season in BMZRC.
So what am I going on about? Essentially it is this question which I’m unable to answer. "What is the difference between racing that costs millions and racing that costs substantially less?"
If it's creating a bike that is so powerful that only the few can ride it on the limit, then that argument would have to conclude that the bikes must always evolve beyond the riders ability to make interesting racing and that I can’t agree with. Sunday’s racing had everything I could hope for in a motor race and all for a few quid.
Trust me, club racing is the new MotoGP (queue letter from Dorna Lawyers) and while I'm waiting, the photos can be found <here>
Winners of the 24 Hours of Silverstone Cross the finish lineWinners of the 24 Hours of Silverstone Cross the finish line. Silverstone Circuit Northamptonshire England. Photo: Dave Ayres Congratulations to #246 Team Abba with Rollcentre Racing on winning a thrilling 24 Hours of Silverstone. From last place on the grid to take the overall win only took them 512 laps of the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit totaling 1,913 miles or 3,061 kilometres for the metrically minded.
Finishing in 2nd place was #303 Red Camel-Jordans.nl in their Seat Leon Cup Racer, three laps down on the winners and in 3rd are #1 Memac Ogilvy Duel Racing also in a Seat Leon Cup Racer who finish a further two laps down.
Huge thanks to Creventic who organise the 24H Series. A wonderful event and from a photographer's point of view they are a delight to work with. The coffee was excellent too.
There are 379 photographs online for your viewing pleasure, all arranged in race number order <click here>. Take a look towards the bottom for the Podium shots.
#139 Sub Zero Wolf - competing in Touring Car Endurance Series a#139 Sub Zero Wolf - Seat Leon Cup Racer (2000cc) Drivers: Robert Smith (ENG) - Paul Smith (ENG) - Craig Davies (ENG) competing in Round 1 of the Touring Car Endurance Series. Silverstone Circuit Northamptonshire England. 1st - 3rd April 2016. Photo: Dave Ayres - Picturesports 24 Hour Endurance Racing is unique. More than just a race to see who is fastest, it is a whole team event.
Four hours in to the Silverstone 24HSeries race, the #139 Sub Zero Wolf Seat Leon blew a turbo and filled the pit lane with smoke. Take that to the local Seat dealer and you are waiting weeks for the car. Yet a few hours later Sub Zero Wolf are back out racing and still going with 4 hours left to run.
TeamBRIT – 16 hours of perfect running and working their way up the order when the DSG gearbox on the VW Golf decides to “pack a sad” and they limp back to the pits. Less than an hour later though, complete with new gearbox they are back on track and chasing to make up positions.
However perhaps the best example from the first 20 hours of the race is the #246 Abba Commercial Rollcentre Racing BMW M3 V8, who started at the back of the grid and had spent practice and qualifying eating driver shafts and gearboxes, yet now are leading the race.
That said, it isn’t over until it is over. Just ask Team Bleekemolen
#246 Rollcentre Racing competing in 24 Hour International Endura#246 Rollcentre Racing - BMW M3 V8 (4000cc) Drivers: Richard Roberts (ENG) - Charles Lamb (ENG) - Martin Short (ENG) - Richard Neary (ENG) competing in Round 3 of the 24H International Endurance Series. Silverstone Circuit Northamptonshire England. 1st - 3rd April 2016. Photo: Dave Ayres - Picturesports After 15 hours leading the race, the engine on the #127 Team Bleekemolen Seat Leon Cup let go in a spectacular fashion on the opposite side of the circuit from the pit lane. 15 Hours and pulling away, until … but that is Endurance racing. Everything and everybody plays there part.
Four hours to go. I wonder what will happen next?
The images from the first 20 hours are online - just click here
#24 Paul White - Ginetta G5r7 & #25 Michael Munemann and Sir Chr#24 Paul White - Ginetta G5r7 & #25 Michael Munemann and Sir Chris Hoy - Ginetta G5r7 competing in Round 1 of the Britcar Dunlop Prototype Series held at Silverstone Circuit Northamptonshire England. April 1st 2016. Photo: Dave Ayres Picturesports Some times it just all works. In bold print on the photography brief for the weekend are the words "...and a group shot of the Ginettas".
4th photo I take this morning and ... Tada! -
Best go and see if I can do it again :-) or I could just drink tea all day. Tempting but I don't think I'll get away with it.
Update: The nice people at Creventic, who organise the 24 Hour Series, came around the press room with fresh coffee this morning. I've been introduced to the Urn. I've taken my own kettle but I don't think I've ever been offered fresh coffee while sat hunched over a laptop editing photos.
Colour me impressed.
#35 Andrew Howard \ Jonny Adam \ Harry Whale \ Jamie Chadwick \#35 Andrew Howard \ Jonny Adam \ Harry Whale \ Jamie Chadwick \ Ross Gunn - Aston Martin Vantage - night qualifying for the Britcar Dunlop 24hr race at Silverstone Circuit Northamptonshire England. Friday 24th April 2015. Photo: Dave Ayres - Picturesports This weekend (April 1st - 3rd) sees the return of the quieter 24 Hour race at Silverstone for its 2nd year. A change of management sees Britcar hand over to Creventic, who also run the 7 race “24 Hour Series".
The change in management has expanded the interest in the race with entries this year from as far as field as Lebanon, Hong Kong and numerous European counties joining a 15 strong UK contingent, for 24 hours of excitement.
Alas, Beechdean's Aston Martin (pictured) who won last years race are not back to defend the title.
The fickle British weather is playing its part with only some light rain in the early hours of Sunday morning forecast, all of which will add to the mix.
The weekend is also the first outing for the Britcar Prototype Series which will see the works supported Ginetta G57s running against the likes of Rileys, Aquilla, Rapier, Praga R1, Tampolli and Radicals. The grid hasn’t been announced, yet for a series just out of development, the works Ginetta support is a real success story.
Also racing are the Historic Racing Drivers Club and the ever entertaining Super 7 Inter Series. Qualifying and racing starts on Friday with night practice for the 24 Hour on Friday evening. More racing on Saturday with the 24 Hour race getting underway at 4pm.
Incidentally, the HRDC web site is well worth a visit. The style of the site is very much in keeping with the Historic theme. Excellent stuff. www.hrdc.eu
So, cameras cleaned. Rain gear and kettle packed, just in case. Looking forward to an excellent 3 days of racing.
#1 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) - Redline Racing - Porsche Carrera Cup GB#1 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) - Redline Racing - Porsche Carrera Cup GB Media Day. Silverstone Circuit Northamtonshire England. 23rd March 2016. Photo: Dave Ayres - Picturesports Whereas the 2016 racing season has officially started, the weeks leading up to Easter are normally where you will find the Media Days. This year we seem to have packed them in to the 4 days before Good Friday with Renault, BTCC, Formula MSA and Porsche have all held their 2016 launch days this week.
Media Days are an excellent opportunity to get images that just don’t fit in to a normal race weekend. Tracking shots for example are difficult (make that almost impossible) to work in to race day schedule. Teams who are normally fully focused on the objective of winning have more time and drivers on media days are in a very different mental place compared to the one you often find them in on race day.
It isn’t “all gravy” though. March in Northern Europe is a roller coaster of weather. A few days ago we were rejoicing in spring sunshine, but as I make my way through the road works to Silverstone for the Porsche Carrera Cup Media Day, I’m looking at slate grey skies and hoping it doesn‘t start to rain, which thankfully it didn’t.
#81 Euan MCKAY (GBR) - IN2 Racing - Porsche Carerra Cup GB#81 Euan MCKAY (GBR) - IN2 Racing - Porsche Carrera Cup GB Media Day. Silverstone Circuit Northamtonshire England. 23rd March 2016. Photo: Dave Ayres - Picturesports With the Carrera Cup opening weekend at Brands Hatch just a few days away on the 2nd and 3rd of April, you would think that everything by now would be locked down and ready. Alas it isn’t always so. A few cars are still waiting for the final stickers to be applied and a few of the drivers are doing their best to hide last year’s logos as their 2016 race suits haven’t yet arrived. It will be, as the saying goes, all right on the night or in our case race day.
With media duties completed, the pit lane settles down to an afternoon of testing, the first chance to see who has the basic setup nailed and who will be playing catch-up at Brands Hatch. Although the Carrera Cup is a one make series, there are levels within the series. The PRO drivers as you might expect are towards the top of the timing sheets with the series rookies Charlie Eastwood, Lewis Plato and Alessandro Latif all making top 5 appearances across the sessions. In the Pro-AM Classes Dan and Euan McKay made prominent appearances in their respective classes, along with Sean Hudspeth.
Add all the sessions together and it is the usual suspects of Dan Cammish, Tom Oliphant and Dino Zamparelli that close out to the top 3 places, split by 0.12 of a second. A sign of things to come? Perhaps, then again there is the Kimi Räikkönen view – and please read this in a stoic Finnish mono tone -“testing is just going around in circles”.