Last weekend the Gamma Racing Days were held on the TT Circuit of Assen. Starting on Friday there were events all weekend on and around the circuit. I went to see what was happening on Sunday afternoon.
I don’t know what brilliant idea is behind the new schedule of the Superbike races, but apparently there’s a race 1 on Saturday and a race 2 on Sunday now. Not my ideal setup, but what can you do? So without too much rest I was at the track today to shoot the first race of the weekend (and for me this year).
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.
This weekend the Superbike races are held at the TT Circuit of Assen and though it’s not as big an event as the TT Races are, it is big enough to organise a Superbike Night in Assen. Two stages, two bands and -as long as the weather holds up- a good atmosphere.
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.
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.
The opening of the track season at the TT-Circuit of Assen was nearly here and I was a little worried as the past few days as the weather wasn’t very good. To be honest, it’s been pouring. But whatever the weather, on Monday the 5th of April with the Paasraces (Easter Races) the season would be opened. Thanks to the rain I skipped the training session on Saturday, but I really wanted to attend the races on Monday. Luckily the day started bright and sunny. The afternoon brought clouds, a little rain and lots of cold wind, but it was a lot better then in had been the past days.
After a morning training session the races started at quarter to one in the afternoon. They’d start with the sidecars, the the Supermono and after that the classics. These races were fun to watch, but offered little action. The sidecars were way too much spread over the track to offer any suspense. I guess the Classics didn’t want to chance damaging the old bikes. Once the 125cc class entered the track, with a fuller grid, it started to get exciting. The two Dutch Supersport races and the Dutch Superbike also were lots more interesting to watch with a few crashes, some overtaking and more racing in groups.
I tried out various places to shoot photos to avoid getting lots and lots of the same shots and test-shoot some ideas. It was a great practice and I hope I’ll be able to do some more at the end of the month with the Superbike races on their way.
[flickr]tag:paasraces2010+KJGuch@Klaas / KJGuch.com[/flickr]
Oh, and since I ‘happened’ to have the panorama kit with me, I also took a panorama photo at the start/finish line. It was a bit of a quicky as the riders were awaiting to be let loose on the track, so I didn’t have much time to set it up. Because of that it’s a bit sloppy, there are a few errors (can you spot them? ;)). Currently it’s also available in a Quicktime-version over here.