2015 World Endurance Championship – Spa 6 Hours

By: snowgood

May 04 2015

Category: Cars, Photography, Sport


Focal Length:400mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 7D

Last year I managed to pack in 12 hours driving, on top of 7 hours at the Spa Francochamps circuit. I got home shattered. This year I decided to spread the 6 hour race and 650 miles of driving into a two day time slot. A short walk from the world’s greatest race track miscellaneous cars line the road. Who wouldn’t want a classic 911? The latest marketing ploy on track is to line up all the machinery for a mock Le Mans start. Porsche locked out the first three spots.  Nico Hulkenberg is the latest F1 driver recruited to drive in the series, just missing out on pole position on his first outing. The top three teams are all mighty quick, but the Porsche 919 murders the opposition when it comes to acceleration and top speed. Behind them on the grid were two of the mighty Audis.  My favourites (and last year’s champions) were outpaced at Silverstone, and were hoping to make up lost ground here in Belgium. The plan went pear shaped in a wet practice, with the No.1 car involved in massive smash in the wet. Nakajima was carted off to hospital with damaged vertebrae, and McNish and Buemi missed an entire session whilst the car was rebuilt. Further down the grid there was mixture of open topped and coupe LMP2 machinery. The Signatech Alpine Nissan looked gorgeous. British interest in the GTE classes centred on the Aston Martin battle with the ultra competitive Bruni/Vilander Ferrari 458. The pair had a battle royal, and with about twenty minutes to go British hopes were dashed as the Italian team took the lead.  Moments later they had a one minute penalty, and the Aston team came out on top. Once the race was underway the factory Porsche 919s stretched their legs.  I enjoyed the race from the main grandstand, with the quickest machinery lapping in under 3 minutes. A big TV screen allowed us to follow the action, with the in car footage being awe inspiring. Porsche No.19 was being driven by the British driver Nick Tandy. Sadly he collected a Manthey 911 and ended up in the barriers. You can see the damage below.  It might seem a stupid thing to do, but the speed differential between the classes is such that the quicker cars rely on waved blue flags and evasive action from the lower classes. That’s all very well, but these slower cars are involved in their own inter team, and class battles. Hopefully Tandy will be forgiven his slight indiscretion. The car lost a lap as a new nose was bolted on. Here’s a shot of spectators just next to the “Bus Stop” chicane. Back at the front Audi were soon pushing hard, capitalising on their superior speed through the corners. Here’s the No.7 car outdrags an LMP2 Ligier. These eTrons deploy their power through a 4 wheel drive system.  Two wheels are diesel powered, and two are powered by electricity harvested during braking.  The No.2 Toyota seemed to run better here than the sister car, but it was totally outclassed by the quickest Audis and Porsches.

In the absence of the Rebellion LMP1 machinery the field was bolstered by the Luizzi, Trummer, Klien “ByKolles” coupe. It looks great here sweeping down from Blanchimont, but it only managed 46 laps before retiring. All the fastest cars feature super slim brake lights, these are on an LMP1 Porsche.  After a Belgian waffle I followed a few spectators into the buildings above the pits. Nobody was manning the entrance, and I was one of hundreds who got a super view without having to buy four drinks tokens! Here’s a Strakka coming into the pits.  You may have noticed an open area above all 4 tyres.  If not it’s easier to spot on the LMP2 below.  In certain conditions these high speed vehicles used to go airborne. Mark Webber suffered a huge smash in a Mercedes a year back, and these cut outs are designed to minimise the risk of a car lifting when they crest the brow of a hill at speed, or lose downforce behind a rival. It was a pretty grey day in the Ardennes, so I’ve manipulated some of the images into monochrome. This one looks back up towards Blanchimont.

The Toyota below has been manipulated with enhanced colours.  Anybody who’s been trackside will know the colours aren’t true, but somehow the car looks faster after my dabbling!  The solitary Corvette sounded good, but was no match for the Aston Martins. The American machine didn’t finish after an accident bashed up the rear end.  I was one of 54,000 people who watched the race, and here’s where I got the best view.  The blurred cars beyond the Toyota boffins are taken on a show shutter speed, and I hope give the impression if speed.  As the race went on the leading Porsche was involved in a monumental struggle with the Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer No.7 Audi. The Porsche was overtaken, then came back at the Inglostadt car, only to watch in bewilderment as the Audi overtook again going through the twisty stuff. Here’s the winner coming to collect the trophy.  All in all it was a great race. Well worth the 35 euro entry fee, and the food in the catering wagons was tastier and cheaper than the fare served up back at Silverstone.


5 comments on “2015 World Endurance Championship – Spa 6 Hours”

  1. Nice shots and angles. You could cover this for the media!

  2. I like it all. With regard to the next but last shot where you had the cars blurred to get an impression of speed – try doing it the other way around. Use a slow shutter speed as you did but pan rapidly so that the cars are in focus but the track and spectators are blurred.

  3. Sorry I forgot. Try it out at home. Take a shot of a car going down the street. Pan at the speed of the car with a very slow shutter speed/ Practice and you’ll get it right very quickly.

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