87th Dutch TT in Assen

If you live in Assen you’re going to have to try really hard to miss the Dutch TT. After a week of TT Funfair and nearly a week of the annual TT Festival today finally the 87th Dutch TT was on with the Moto3, Moto2 and the main event: the MotoGP!

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TT Festival Assen

On Saturday June 29 the MotoGP was races in Assen and on the days preceding that, our little town is bustling with festivities. A funfair is opened a week in advance and on Wednesday halfway to the big event the center of Assen is transformed into a huge festival area with lots of music.

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Go Back To The Zoo and VanVelzen @ TT Festival

Friday night before the races is the original TT Night, in the old days mostly known for the fights, the broken windows of the various shops in Assen and the occasional death. But those days are now long gone. Now you can easily find young families with buggies marching down the streets ate one o’clock at night, on their way to the fair with the slightly older child. And then there’s music of course, lots of it.

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Jacqueline Govaert and Ben Saunders @ TT Festival

I love my hometown, but truth be told, Assen isn’t much of a lively town. Except that one week a year, when we’re taken over by bikers. When the TT Motorraces come to town, the week leading up to it Assen turns into a biker-city with three days of festival with musical performances for just about every taste.

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Open Dutch Championship 2011

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.

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Rizla Racing Day @ TT Circuit in Assen 2/2

Once the ATS Formel 3 Cup was finished, I started a long walk around the lower end of the track, making my way to the area known as “De Bult” to shoot the next race, the Dutch Supercar Challenge, a combined race with two classes: the SS2 and the SP. “De Bult” is a slow turn where cars can be photographed nicely from above or racing towards you, when you’re standing high on the earth banks (non seats-area).

Upon arriving at that part of the circuit, the heavens opened up and it started raining… a lot. The track got well wet and so did everyone on the tribunes that didn’t bring a raincover (that would be me). It also meant that the track was slippery, so cars were a bit more careful going round the corners, but that didn’t stop them from making some pirouettes every once in a while.

Took some photos on the bank and after a while I walked to the “De Bult Tribune” -a seated area- where on the edge of the tribune you can get some nice shots with a 400mm lens of cars leaving the turn in “De Stekkenwal”. Once I had my shots there, I walked to the “Ramshoek”; the end of the long straight end to get the final shots there

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After the Supercar Challenge it was time for another Formula-series, the NEC Formula Renault 2.0. I had walked to the area known as “De Strubben” and would shoot the photos of this last race around this set of corners. The track was still wet, so with the field of cars still close together, the chances one of them ending up besides the track in this area was pretty big and indeed it did.

All in all nothing much else happened in this part of the track during the race, but I did see a car racing along with a flit tire (and it was only just the first part of the track, he had still such a long way to go) and one of the drivers racing around with a broken nose (of the car, not the driver). He’d decided that changing noses would loose him more time than racing along with the broken nose. By the end of the race I’d taken a bunch of photos all around the corners in the northern part of the track and was near the exit again

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80th TT in Assen

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

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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

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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

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Cuby & The Blizzards and Mooi Wark at TT Festival

On Thursday June 24 the second night of the TT Festival started and as the Dutch were playing the last match in the first round of the world cup, a large screen was set up for the crowd to see the match and as the Dutch won, the crowd were happy. A good start of the evening and in preparation to the first gig the DJ had the crowd jumping, singing and doing the polonaise, with beer flying through the air and an ever more cheery bunch of festival goers.

But they were here for music (well, a lot were probably mostly there for the beer, but must were there for music) and Thursday was the Night for the ‘Assenaren’ (inhabitants of Assen), but we didn’t mind if you weren’t from Assen. As long as you had a good time. Th first act of the evening was out national Blues legend “Cuby & The Blizzards”, the band that practically introduced blues to the Netherlands.

The band has been inactive for a few years but have been on the road for a long time again now and still produce new songs and albums and they have a loyal support. Musically they’re also still very good. Not as raw and rock-like as the new generation of bluesbands, but they manage very well.

Playing a set consisting of lots of old time favorites and some new work, they played a great set and these days they expanded the band with a horn-section, where I recognized one of the New Cool Collective members. A great gig and I was glad to see these men still hold their own

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Although at first I told myself that I’d go home after Cuby & The Blizzards, standing where I stood, I thought I might just as well wait for the next act: Mooi Wark. A band singing in Dutch dialect. The songs are a bit camp and are based on utter nonsence, but I must admit that if you filter out the lyrics and the idiotic nonsense in between the songs, the music itself is tightly played and at times even reminds me of Status Quo. Beer was flying around a lot and the crowd was getting jollier by the minute so once I had my photos I got the heck out of there. It was fun, but not really my kinda music

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