At the close of the ice skating season there’s one last time to shine for the ice stadium. After all the ice skate races the final act on the ice is wrecking the layers of ice for real. Fast motorcycles, big spikes and a lot of adrenaline! Welcome to Ice Speedway racing…
In the past years I’ve visited training days of the Superbike and TT in Assen, but not that many actual racing days. And I felt like going to see some real races again, so this year -with a weather forecast predicting a really good day- I opted for the Superbikes racing day.
Back in the day when men were real men and motorbikes were… killing machines on two wheels motor-racers were a special breed of men. With far less regulations for the races, the motorbikes really were far more dangerous and louder than modern day bikes. And they were prettier to look at. So it’s a good thing that Eext held a streetrace with these old machines, driven by old (but young at heart) racers.
Last weekend the Open Dutch Championship 2011 was held on the TT Circuit. On a very sunny Saturday they practised and qualified, determining the starting grids on Sunday. Sunday started a lot gloomier though, in the morning -while warming up- it was simply poring. So far I hadn’t attended any of it; my plan was to go and see the races on Sunday afternoon, but with weather like that I was having second thoughts.
Early in March, at the end of the Ice-skating season the track is handed over to those daredevils on motorbikes and tires with huge spikes and the Ice-Speedway truly finishes of the track in the days to come.
With all the music events last week you’d almost forget that the TT Festival was originally set up to entertain the locals and the thousands of visitors that came to Assen to see the motor races. It was no different last week with people from all over the world visiting our provincial capitol.
The Assen races are different from all other races in that these races are held on Saturday instead of Sunday. That also means that training session start on Thursday and there is more training and the qualifying sessions on Friday. I had already decided not to go to the actual races as it’s pretty darn hard to get a good location for photos and you’re likely to get shouted at at used as target practice for junk-throwing if you do stand up to get decent pics.
Friday the 25th was the best opportunity for me and so I wandered about all day, eventually making my way all around the track getting shots from all locations. A few places that I already knew would deliver me some decent shots and a few new locations that gave me great views to the various corners in the track.
Most of the day was fabulous. The sound of the engines is great, the weather was superb and I enjoy being round the track. However from the very first shot I took, my 3 month old 100-400mm Canon lens decided that it didn’t feel like taking pictures, so I had to battle my lens all day long (tried the 70-200, but that just didn’t take me close enough). Eventually I found a way to at least get the lens to work most of the time so I got some great images anyway.
I’ve divided the images by racing class, the training sessions and qualifying sessions are mixed. First of all there were the 125cc bikes. I really love this class, it’s the rookies class, a well filled field with riders that will fight for every place in the grid. This makes for very aggressive and entertaining racing
(click image for slideshow Iphone/iPad? Click here)
Next up was the Moto2 class, a class that has replaced the 250cc and this new class mostly consists of Honda 600cc bikes. The field is very well filled with a lot of riders so this class also makes for interesting races
(click image for slideshow Iphone/iPad? Click here)
And then finally the MotoGP bikes were let loose on the track. The sound of these bikes is incredible and they’re so very fast. However with Valentino Rossi out due to an injury, the class lacked a bit of fun, also for the Valentino tribune. Another problem with this class is the small amount of riders in it. As awesome as these bikes look and sound, they need a fuller field to make the races a bit more exciting. Still…. what a sound when these com roaring past
(click image for slideshow Iphone/iPad? Click here)
In preparation of the races on the TT Circuit of Assen on Sunday May 16, the Superleague Formula held Qualifying sessions and knockout finals on Saturday May 15. A day earlier there were already some practice sessions and a demonstration in the town center of Assen that was well attended.
Photographing these cars (or any for that matter) is a lot different then photographing motorcycles. Motorcycles are a lot more dynamic in corners as to cars. Also the cars a bigger and getting them interestingly on a photo is not that easy. It might work better if you shoot them from the front, but there were lots of gates preventing decent shots from that point. Luckily we were able to get on the top op the hospitality house so I could shoot some cars a little more from above and vary the shots a bit more. I’d like to try again sometime, but I’d like some different angles to shoot from.
But it was great to see these racemonsters racing over the circuit near my hometown. The noise these car make is insane.
[flickr]tag:KJGuch+slf15052010@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]
On Saturday May 15 the Superleague Formula racing championship would be qualifying, but around those qualifying sessions were held additional races.For me it was a great way to practice photographing racing cars. When we arrived the Dutch Mustang Challenge had just begun. Curiously among the mustangs were also some BMW’s racing. I guess they helped fill up the field as there weren’t that many cars. The best looking Ford Mustang didn’t even race by the way, it was displayed on the middle area, looking awesome
[flickr]tag:dmc15052010+Ford@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]
After these races we got on the photo shuttlebus (driven by my dad ;)) and relocated. It beats walking, I can tell you that. At the new location I was better able to track the cars and shoot them while they were ‘slowly’ going around the corner. The race that started now was a supercart race. They may look small, but these little buggers go up to 240km/h (150m/h)
[flickr]tag:KJGuch+carts15052010@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]
The last event I saw was the Dutch Supercar Challenge race. Roaring engines, air-tunnel designed cars and as pit-stops were mandatory, so standing above the pitlane was a fun place to be. Didn’t get many racing images and certainly not many interesting ones, but a view from the pit is -for a change- quite interesting.
[flickr]tag:KJGuch+dsc15052010@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]
After two days of free practice and qualifying Sunday April 25 was racing day, time to see if qualifying to pole would actually get a win. Photography proved to be a lot more difficult too. There suddenly was a large crowd enjoying a fantastically sunny day and the races on the track and a lot of people wanted to be in the same spot as me. However, I soon realized that taking the same positions as I had during practice and qualifying also meant that I’d end up with the same kind of photos. And I wanted more racing photos during the races. Unfortunately there weren’t many ‘dogfights’ going on. At least not where I was during race one. I managed some decent photos, but decided I’d scout the track for different positions during the next two races that were scheduled between the first and the second Superbike race
After some shots during the Supersport and the Parkingo Series I eventually settled on the hill in the ‘Strubben’ corner. It’s an interesting corner not to far from the start/finish line. You see the racers in a fairly slow set of corners, enabling the daring racers to make a move. It already delivered me shots of a crash during the first lap when all racers were still huddled together, fighting for some room on the track (and preferably before the others, thank you very much). This race was a lot more exciting to watch than the first as there were more groups of racers instead of racers racing separately. All in all I was able to get some more interesting photos and I enjoyed the race a lot. Unfortunately my beloved Ducati’s were mainly guarding the rear this time, Jonathan Rea of the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team (bike number 65) dominated both races.
The main reason for buying the Canon EF 100-400mm lens was to do sports and I wanted to focus on motor-sports first, seeing as the TT Circuit is just a few kilometers away. The Easter races were a great first test, but this weekend was the moment of truth with the Superbike World Championship coming to the circuit. I took Friday of to be able to shoot some photos from various locations. The weather was great so I had all freedom to shot great images. Besides the Superbike free practice and qualifying there were also other racing classes such as the Supersport, Superstock and Parkingo Series, but I wanted to keep the images into the main class. the Friday qualifying of the Superbike ended a bit odd, as there was an accident that stopped the session at 3 minutes 49. The teams were allowed to complete the session and for the few remaining minutes all motors hit the track again. IN the very last corner of the last round, a diver unfortunately crashed his bike in the GT corner. I’ve added that one as a strip
[flickr]tag:KJGuch+sbk23042010@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]
On Saturday I was fortunate enough to have been allowed the use of a press-pass, allowing me to get a little bit closer to the action. Photographing in these locations was a whole new experience. Being closer to the bikes also means they’re passing a lot quicker. But if you’re able to get them good, you really get them good. Tried a few locations where I’d normally not even be able to come even close to and I was able to try my luck on the press-side of the GT corner. That wasn’t half as easy as I once thought it was. Didn’t really get the results I wanted over there, but a few new experiences have been gained. The ‘Strubben’ area was a great place to work as well, although most photo’s I took there were of the other disciplines. I did get some great close-ups of the Ducati’s though and am mightly pleased with that :)
[flickr]tag:KJGuch+sbk22042010@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]
While in the GT corner, I also shoot a free-hand panorama of the GT Tribune and the main tribune. Some errors in the tires in front but a nice shot just the same, I think.
On the 27th and 28th of March the open Dutch Championship Grasstrackracing was held in Vries. In two days various sets of dirt-bike races were competing for the championship. I went on Sunday as on this day besides the ‘normal’ two wheeled bikes they’d also race with sidecar bikes, always making for some interesting shots. The only thing I found a bit curious is that this is called ‘Grasstrackracing’, but there wasn’t a piece of grass to be found on the track. There was dirt, lots and lots of it and most of it ended on the audience during the races.
There were lots of heats and every so often they’d flatten the track again, keeping it fair for the next races. During the day we’ve had just about every type of weather: sunny, cloudy, rain and even hail. None of it mattered to the riders, they plowed through the field no matter what. For the audience though it certainly did matter, with the wind it could get quite cold at times.
For myself it was also a great opportunity to field-test my new Canon EF 100-400mm lens. Would it deliver sharp images, would it be able to keep up with the speedy bikes? I tried lots of ISO settings and for today let the camera decide on the shutter-speed, that way I’d end up with some varied results enabling me to see what would deliver the best kind of photos for future reference. All in all I’m quite happy with the results. A few days rest now and then with Easter off to the TT Circuit for the opening of the bike race season there. For now, here are the results of the grasstrackraces
[flickr]tag:gtrv280310+KJGuch@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]