Porsche Carrera Cup

Events - BTCC and Support Races at Brands Hatch Grand Prix

This weekend Brands Hatch threw us a new challenge, the Grand Prix layout. With Honda Racing very kindly granting us VIP Hospitality for the weekend, we relished the challenge of a new circuit layout and utilising different vantage points. Extending the circuit by a further 1.5 miles, the Grand Prix layout provides plenty of opportunities for the photographer as the fencing around this part of the circuit is less intrusive when compared to that of the Indy. With the walk to further parts of the Grand Prix circuit being a little bit of a trek (especially in 25-30 degree heat) you'll find that less people watch from these areas. Ideal if your after some good positions to shoot from.

Although you can't get parallel with Stirlings Bend (unfortunate as it has a very wide run off kerb and would give a great dramatic shot going down towards Clearways) there are viewing points before and after the bend. A record-equalling 29 cars started on today's grid, including new face Ollie Jackson. Ollie is the reigning Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro-Am1 champion and looked consistently strong for a debut drive in the great looking Triple Eight Vauxhall Vectra:

Support races provided plenty of action and the below shots really shows off how great Brands looks during the current Indian Summer...

Jason Plato had a great weekend which put him back into contention for winning the title, taking victory in both Race 1 and 2:

Team Parker Racing's driver Stephen Jelley also made sure that his chances of winning this year's Porsche Carrera Cup GB title are still well within reach as he stormed to victory, huge congratulations to the team and fingers crossed for the last couple of rounds!

Only 5 championship points separates the top three drivers of the BTCC, which means it's down to the last three races at Silverstone. Again the BTCC provides nail-bitingly close action as Jason Plato, Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden all head to Silverstone with a chance at the title. If that's not entertainment, i'm not sure what is?!

Events - BTCC and Support Races at Rockingham

Ten years of planning, two years of construction and Rockingham became Europe's fasted banked oval circuit opening in 2001. With a variable layout it hosts many events throughout the year, and on it's 10th Anniversary it was turn of the British Touring Car Championship to dominate the Northamptonshire tarmac. Having just completed a photoshoot with Team Parker Racing and their number '70' Porsche Carrera Cup driver Stephen Jelley, we were very kindly invited back to watch the race action unfold. I for one do not need an excuse to attend any motorsport event, and happily at 7am on Sunday morning we headed to 'The Rock'.

All of my motorsport coverage in 2011 has been from a spectator's point of view, and at Rockingham that certainly makes things difficult. Circuits have safety fences to protect the public and unless you are able to get relatively close to these fences, it is near on impossible to shoot through. The circuit is able to host cars capable of reaching speeds of 200mph, and these safety fences are relatively large/difficult to get close to. As with all of my photography I want to put my own perspective on things, and at Rockingham this made it very hard with the limited access to different vantage points.

Nevertheless, with access to the pit lane and paddock thanks to Team Parker Racing we made use of the pit garage roof tops, using slow shutter speeds to pan like crazy as cars teared down the start/finish straight:

Left in the above picture we have Jason Plato storming past his pit crew to victory in Race 1. To the right we have Frank Wrathall who along with Rob Austin this weekend proved that the NGTC cars are on the pace providing exciting racing all weekend which had the crowd cheering. Team Parker Racing had a fantastic set of results with Euan Hankey taking home first place in both races:

Stephen Jelley in the fantastic looking number '70' 911 GT3 had two lightning starts which placed him 4th in both races. It was great to catch up with TPR on Sunday and run them through a few pictures from thursdays editorial shoot using my iPad.

If your a BTCC fan then the next round is less than two weeks away at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. With championship standings in the BTCC and Porsche Carrera Cup being incredibly close at the top it's all to play for in the last two rounds. The finale is held at Silverstone on October the 16th and CarBuzz.co.uk have teamed up with with the circuit to offer a lucky subscriber two free weekend tickets, simply like their page and you'll be in with a chance of winning!

Photoshoot - Team Parker Racing; Stephen Jelley

Team Parker Racing are a household name when it comes to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB. With many trophies and records of championship wins under their belt, this Leicestershire based team currently run 6 cars across the various classes. One of their drivers, Stephen Jelley of previous BTCC fame is in clear contention for this year's title in the number 70 car. This weekend will see the BTCC and Porsche Carrera Cup GB make way to Rockingham, the only US-style ‘oval’ circuit in the UK. The amount of work and dedication that goes into these events behind the scenes is simply amazing. Yesterday we travelled to Rockingham near Corby for an 8am start, ready to spend the day with Team Parker Racing. Let me start by saying that we both Han and I were blown away by the hospitality that Stuart and the team showed us.

In just under 2 hours, 10 dedicated members of Team Parker Racing had built what you could only describe any racers dream. Everything is worked out with precision, each car has it's own position allowing engineers to work quickly and easily. Race lorries are like the tardis, relatively normal on the outside but each house 3 cars, work benches and a driver's lounge! With free reign about the cars to produce an editorial shoot on TPR we decided to first concentrate on some interior/detail shots before Stephen Jelley arrived.

Working around the cars, we felt like part of the team. It was great to chat to engineers about the team and the cars they run, lots of interesting stories to be told! Shortly after lunch time Stephen had arrived, and after a quick chat with him we knew what we wanted to achieve. I'm not sure everyone can say this, but our claim to fame can now be that we've been driven around a race circuit by Stephen Jelley, albeit in a golf buggy......slowly working on our chances in the Porsche ;-)

If anyone knows Rockingham, then you might know that to gain access to the circuit you need to pass through two rather large 'Exhaust Appreciation' tunnels. Before we had even arrived at Rockingham I had planned to use this for a shot. As a photographer it's crucial to have a plan mapped out enabling you to work quickly and efficiently, maximising your actual shooting time with the client. I attached a Speedlite 580EXII to a light stand and had Hannah hold it high over the nose of the Porsche. A second Speedlite 430EX had a full red gel behind the car, and using PocketWizards as my trigger we got the shot in a matter of a minutes before continuing onto the infield.

With Rockingham granting us access to the infield and start line it made a great setting for any race car and quickly the shots started to flow. Huge admiration for Stephen, as he was more than up for doing anything I had in mind. A true gentleman, both a pleasure to meet and photograph. The first shot below is lit with two speedlites, 580EXII camera right as key and 430EX camera left with a red gel for rim. The second shot below is taken using a 70-200 F2.8 at 130mm. Wanting to keep the aperture wide open this is a composite of two shots. The first of all was taken of the car, lit with a single 580EXII Speedlite camera right. All strapped down on a tripod, the focus point was then changed to Stephen. 430EX Camera left in a softbox my VAL (Voice Activated Lightstand, thanks Han! ;-) ) walked parallel to Stephen. All triggered via PocketWizards I made the most of their fantastic 'Hypersync' functionality by using a shutter speed of 1/3200th of a second to kill ambient and still keep recharge times to a minimum:

Unlike other circuits, at Rockingham you have the ability to ascend on top of the pit garages and obtain a higher view point. What better way than to put my new wide angle to the test with this next shot. The lens really excelled it self in every aspect and will always have a home in my kit bag:

What's a race car without speed? In between towing the car around the track with a quad I jumped on the back to try and capture some motion. Some cloning in photoshop to remove the strap and again my wide angle came to the rescue. I love this shot, taken at 1/13th of a second handheld!

Just before the British Touring Car Teams started to setup their garages ahead of race weekend, we quickly borrowed one for a few dramatic shots. Most striking of which has to be this one, lit with two speedlites camera left and right.

All of the lighting setups were simplistic in the fact every photograph has a maximum of two speedlites, triggered via PocketWizard Flex's. The wide angle lens has seriously impressed me and I would recommend it to anyone, hopefully the above photographs speak for themselves! You'll be able to check out higher resolution images over on my website at www.richardpardon.co.uk. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below, the day was a huge success and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. A huge thank you to Stephen Jelley and all at Team Parker Racing, best of luck for the weekend. We'll be there cheering you on! :)

Events - BTCC Thruxton and Support Races

As a spectator, Thruxton is often a daunting thought for any keen photographer. The fastest circuit on the BTCC calendar and one which is always busy with thousands of spectators means finding a prime location to photograph the races is no easy task. Challenged by various heads whilst panning (trying my best not to hit them, honest...) and chainlink fences Thruxton isn't the best circuit to photograph at in my opinion. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Hannah (my better half), James (my brother) and family trecked to Hampshire for the British Touring Car Championship and support races. This photograph below is of Jason Plato storming to victory in the final race after having an unlucky incident in race one with a tyre malfunction and hitting a wall at speeds in excess of 100mph causing a 6G impact! Hats off to the Silverline team getting the car back out for race two!

I think the saying goes that "Rubbing's Racing" and Tom Onslow-Cole certainly showed that during race one where he powered the AmD Miltek Golf to it's highest ever finishing position of 7th, congratulations guys! Great to see this car mixing it up the field of well established names.

The British Touring Cars weren't the only formula to provide close racing all day, with everyone pushing the cars to their limits. This below photograph shows Pierce (Car 24) locking up on the approach to Campbell. I think it's safe to say Thruxton was home to one of the best Porsche Carrera GT3 Cup races in a long time this weekend.

Formula Renault driver Andrew Jarman (Car 28) featured heavily in my Brands Hatch photographs purely because the car looks stunning at speed. This time around it was a different approach to capture him tackling the 'Club' bend at Thruxton. This photograph was taken using my mark II 2x extender, which previously I had been worried about with degrading image quality and focus speeds. However attached to my trusty 70-200 F2.8 IS L it proved fantastic at Thruxton. AI Servo tracking speeds gave me no difficulty, and the images at 100% crop are insanely sharp!

Finally i'll leave you with Tom Ingram crossing the start/finish line at Thruxton whilst being congratulated by his team as he leads the championship in the Ginetta G50 Supercup.

Hannah has also uploaded some fantastic shots onto her blog site, and if you'd like to check them out please click here.

If you are interested in viewing the full set from Thruxton please feel free to click here and visit the gallery.