Before you get excited, this blog isn’t a homage to an 80’s gaming classic, but it seemed a fitting title for rolling the last two events I’ve been to into a single blog post.
The theme of two actually applies to the events themselves, as the subjects of both were two-wheeled rather than four. I don’t recall seeing much in the way of bike content on Fueltopia before, so hopefully this is something a little different.
The British Superbike Championship isn’t a racing series I closely follow, but I watch it when I can and when the opportunity arose to pop down and check out some racing at Brands Hatch I jumped at it, especially when I realised the bikes would be running the full GP circuit.
The last time I watched Superbikes at Brands Hatch was well over 5 years ago and all I could clearly remember from that day was the sense of awe at how ridiculously quick the bikes were. With a camera in hand this time I was expecting to find the bikes hard to keep up with: I wasn’t wrong!
The speed didn’t just apply to the British Superbikes either. Even the bikes in the "slower" supporting race were turning in ridiculously quick lap times.
In addition to the speed, maximum commitment was visible across the classes. I’m not a biker – in fact I can’t even ride (I have tried on several occasions, last time ended with a visit to A&E) – but even my untrained eye could recognise how hard the riders were pushing their machinery.
You know you are hard on the front brakes when the rear wheel is lifting! Continuing to ride with your rear brake calliper dragging on the ground is pretty committed as well…
Even if you aren’t a biker you can’t fail to be impressed with the skill of the riders, especially on the bigger machines. Throwing the bikes into corners as low as they dare…
…often nose-to-tail with other bikes as they do so…
...then fighting to hold the front of the bike down as they accelerate out of the corner.
After throwing his bike at the scenery in the first British Superbike race of the day, Shane Byrne came back out and led the second BSB race from start to finish, taking the win and extending his Championship lead.
The BSB weekend was rounded off by racing from those I consider to be the biggest lunatics in the world of motorbike racing…
…not only have you got a rider, but a passenger scrabbling round on the back of the bike as well. Nutters!
Motivated by a day of Superbikes, I was keen to watch some more two wheeled action as soon as possible. Conveniently I had just a fortnight to wait before the Red Bull Pro-National series dropped into Canada Heights.
As with the Superbikes, motocross at Canada Heights is something I went to watch years ago and just haven’t got around to seeing again. Given that I had virtually no prior knowledge on either the riders or the teams racing I wasn’t out to get any specific shots, so I decided to use the day to have a bit of a play with the camera, specifically lowering my shutter speeds.
One of the features I really like about Flickr is the ability to look at the settings used. Obviously no two situations are the same, but I have found it a useful guide in the past. Recently I have noticed a number of eye-catching panning shots taken using significantly lower shutter speeds than I would normally use, so I thought I’d give it a go myself.
After a couple of hours trial and error (mainly the latter!), I concluded that my panning skills need improvement to get the best from much lower shutter speeds and achieve the desired effect – especially as I prefer to have the full subject in focus – but it’s always good to try something different!
Anyway, enough of my photography tangent and back to the racing! Canada Heights is a superb venue for spectating and, accordingly, it’s great fun with a camera as well. I didn’t see a high fence all day and you can shoot pretty much every part of the track from close up…
…I would actually say that the track poses a different problem to the norm: lean too far over the fence and it’s quite like a rider will pass by and take your lens off!
Away from the track a space had been cleared trackside for some freestyle motocross demonstrations between the racing.
I’m actually of the opinion that freestyle motocross has become a bit-overused at motorsport and motoring events. FMX seems to be employed as filler at so many things these days that I fear people have become blasé about watching it, which seems a massive shame as there is unquestionably a huge amount of skill involved. Still, its presence was entirely justified here and seemed to draw the attention of the majority of the crowd.
No, this isn’t another shot of the FMX, it’s Kristian Whatley flying to MX1 victory in the Red Bull Pro National race. The track snakes round a hill side and is littered with jumps, so the bikes seemingly spend as much time airborne as they do on the ground!
As a spectator, I find motocross especially fascinating to watch as, unlike circuit based racing, the fastest line visibly changes both between and during races. Riders also favour different lines, so you will often see bikes entering corners nose-to-tail, splitting up, then re-emerging together again.
Arguably the greatest spectacle in motocross racing comes from the charge into the first corner. From a start area wide enough to accommodate more than 40 bikes, the first corner serves as a massive bottleneck.
Making it safely out of the first corner melee is really a combination of skill and luck: having wide elbows doesn’t hurt either!
It’s difficult, you might even say unfair, to compare British Superbikes and motocross, as they are completely different types of racing. As excellent as the Superbikes were though, spectating at Canada Heights puts you so close to the action it was the motocross that I enjoyed that little bit more: having said that, I shall be making an effort to revist both Championships as soon as possible!
Two more excellent events in the books for 2013 and we’re only just half way through August. With more British and European Rallycross, Time Attack and multiple rallies to come, I hope that this year continues to deliver the goods!
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