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THE ASIAN LEG

With the second 24 Hours of Le Mans ‘Super-season’ World Endurance Championship and the last race of the season just around the corner, it is time to reflect on two races I had the opportunity of photographing during 2018 part of the season.

PART 2: 6h FIAWEC SHANGHAI

Shanghai Circuit was built in 2004 to host the Formula 1 Grand Prix and has been used for other international races since. The circuit is instantly recognisable thanks to two distinct architectural highlights, the Lily Pad Grandstand and the main straight buildings.

Continuously changing weather conditions during the World Endurance Championship weekend, brought some challenges but also opportunities with them. The race on Sunday was started under an absolute downpour and the rain did not let off the entire 6 hours. The race was stopped and restarted several times and it was hard to stay dry despite all the rain gear. Unfortunately, one of my cameras did not like the humidity and gave up, never to work again. That is the down side of photographing in extreme weather conditions. On the upside, it is always satisfying to see the results of your hard work after the weekend (and when you are dry again) of which I share a few shots below.

THE ASIAN LEG

With the second 24 Hours of Le Mans ‘Super-season’ World Endurance Championship, and the last race of the season just around the corner, it is time to reflect on two races I had the opportunity of photographing during the 2018 part of the season.

PART 1: WEC 6 Hours of Fuji 2018

Fuji International Speedway is a fast and technical circuit and set on the fringe of Mount Fuji. During my first visit the year before, the weather was so bad that I did not get to see this iconic mountain view through the fog. 

Second visit, second chance. Or so I thought. I will not keep you in suspense but reveal straight away that the clouds once again hid Mount Fuji from view all weekend. These clouds brought rain and changing conditions with them which created excitement on the track and some great photo opportunities.

Mount Fuji I will get to see you, maybe next year?

ELMS 4 Hours of Portimão

The season finale of the 2018 European Le Mans Series was held at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, a 4.692 km race circuit located in Portimão, in the south of Portugal.  

A total of 39 teams (15 LMP2, 18 LMP3 and 6 GTE teams) started in the season finale of the European Le Mans Series. The G-Drive duo of Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola already claimed the title in the LMP2 class at the last round in Spa-Francorchamps, but the title decisions in the LMP3 and the GTE classes were still open.

I could not imagine a better venue to stage the ELMS finale. This amazing circuit with its constantly undulating nature and plenty of twists and turns, resembles a roller-coaster ride and has a dangerous edge that reminds me of a modern version of Spa-Francorchamps or sections of the Nordschleife.

The race started on Sunday under sunny skies but with strong northerly wind blowing that brought cold temperatures to the circuit.

With a lot to fight for during the weekend, the entire race turned out to be a nail-biting finale. In the end it was the United Autosports Ligier-Gibson (22) of Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson who took a second consecutive victory crossing the line just 0.5 seconds ahead of Will Stevens in the Panis Barthez Competition Ligier (23). The G-Drive Racing Oreca (26), finished in 3rd place but was given a 10 second penalty for an earlier track limits infringement promoting the United Autosports Ligier (32) of Will Owen to the final podium position.

The Inter Europol Competition Ligier (13) duo of Martin Hippe and Jakub Smiechowski took a maiden victory for the Polish team in the LMP3 category. However, it was the RLR MSport Ligier crew (15) of Job Van Uitert, John Farano and Rob Garofall who finished in 5th place and in doing so, clinched the 2018 LMP3 Driver and Team titles.

In the LMGTE category, it was the Proton Competition (77) Porsche 911 of Christian Ried, Dennis Olsen and Marvin Dienst, who took the chequered flag and scored its first win of the 2018 season.

Gianluca and Giorgio Roda together with their Italian teammate Matteo Cairoli became the first Father and Son driver pairing to win an ELMS title by bringing the Proton Competition Porsche (88) home in third place. In doing so, they secured both the Team and Driver titles.

The 2018 European Le Mans Series is now over and the countdown to the 2019 season opener at Le Castellet in April 2019 has started.

 

 

ELMS 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps 2018

The 5th round of the European Le Mans Series, took place at Spa-Francorchamps, with an attendance of 40 cars racing in the LMP2, LMP3 and GTE classes. Although Qualifying remained dry, rain was present throughout the weekend. On race-day a storm bringing extreme weather joined the party, which is why the race organizers decided to bring the race forward by 2 hours in a hope to avoid the worst.

The race started under a constant drizzle and with the safety car leading the pack to give the drivers a chance to familiarize themselves with the extreme conditions. After 4 laps under the safety car, they were released to find their own pace. After 100 minutes of racing and the 3rd safety car of the day out on track, the rain kept increasing. LMP3 driver Martin Hippe: "you could not even follow the Safety car, it was that slippery at the end" (GT-Eins)

The logical consequence was a red flag which was shown after 125 minutes of racing and would mean half points for all point scoring teams if the race was not resumed. Half an hour after the break it was announced that the race would not be restarted.

With this signaling the end of the race, the United Autosport Ligier duo of Phil Hansson and Filipe Albuquerque #22 takes the win before the Dragonspeed of Hendrik Hedman, Nicolas Lapierre and Ben Hanley and the Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier of Timothé Buret, Julien Canal and Will Stevens.

In the LMP3 class it was also a United Autosports team that took the win with the duo John Falb and Scott Andrews in the #2 Ligier in front of the #15 RLR Msport Ligier of Job van Uitert, John Farano and Robert Garofall. Third on the podium is the British 360 Racing Ligier team driven by Terrence Woodward and Ross Kaiser.

In the GTE class, the victory goes to the Ebimotors Porsche trio Fabio Babini, Riccardo Pera and Bret Curtis ahead of the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari driven by Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott and the #88 Proton Porsche driven by Gianluca Roda, Giorgio Roda and Matteo Cairoli.

With 55% of the race completed only half points were handed out. Under these circumstances, the 11th placed G-Drive (LMP2) trio of Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and Jean-Eric Vergne were able to secure the 2018 ELMS championship title.

WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone 2018

As a big endurance racing fan, I watch all FIA WEC races, have been to the 24 Hours of Le Mans since the early 90s and even followed endurance racing through the 80s. So, when the request came through to photograph the Silverstone World Endurance Championship (WEC) event, I did not hesitate and took up this opportunity without blinking an eye.

It is a personal highlight in my photography career to cover such a high-level racing event and with F1 world champions such as Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button taking part it does feel really special.

The series features multiple classes of cars competing in 4 different categories. The LMP1 and LMP2 prototype classes are sure to provide plenty of action with high quality driver line-ups and fiercely fast cars.

The world class GTE Pro category is the playground of Porsche, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Ford and BMW and provides world class competitive racing too. Add to this a very strong LMGTE Am class with entries from Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche and things could not get any better!

I had a great weekend and enjoyed watching and documenting the race from close by. Pure adrenaline!

I am happy to share some of my photography from the 2018 Super Season Silverstone race and I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them…