Working with a Champion

October 15, 2018  •  4 Comments

As JG Speedfit Kawasaki's Official Photographer in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, I have to admit that I was slightly apprehensive prior to this weekends final round at Brands Hatch. The responsibility of capturing all the appropriate action and celebratory imagers of Leon Haslam and the team, should he clinch the 2018 title, gave me a few sleepless nights.

What follows is a small selection of images I shot this weekend, which hopefully gives a flavour of what it is like to work with a Champion and Championship winning team.

On arriving at the circuit on the Thursday I wanted to try and capture a 'natural' picture of Leon. Something that showed the emotions and feelings he may be experiencing prior to one of his most important race career weekends. Eurosport were filming in the pit box and during a short break, Leon seemed lost in deep thought. The following image was captured in available light on the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens (so as not to interfere with TV) and was exactly the sort of image I was looking to get.

TK3_9458TK3_94582018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 11h October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
The weather forecast for Friday was dry, but windy, so I headed out to Sheene's curve, hoping that the backdrop of tree's would have an autumnal colour. Not only did they, but the gusty wind also occasional whipped up a cloud of leaves, resulting in the following image shot with the Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens. TK2_7161TK2_71612018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 12h October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
I spent Friday afternoon in pit lane and as Leon went out for FP2, he threw a cursory glance at the timing screen, or had he got eyes on the prize? (Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens) TK2_8008TK2_80082018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 12h October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
Weather conditions were obviously still tricky, but Leon improved on his time in the morning by nearly a second, so set up was moving in the right direction. (Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens) TK3_0185TK3_01852018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 12h October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
On Saturday morning, the wind had dropped and summer seemed to have returned, but because of the time of year was casting long morning shadows across the track. (Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens and Sigma 1.4x TC-1401 Teleconverter) TK2_8419TK2_84192018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 13th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
As the final round is a Triple Header, with an extra race on the Saturday, Qualifying followed not long after FP3. Although Leon was visibly pushing hard, he was obviously thinking about the bigger picture. securing 8th place. However, with title rival, Jake Dixon, qualifying in pole, the race was going to be interesting. Leon rode within himself, finishing sixth and despite Jake having finished runner-up, this was enough to secure Leon the 2018 Championship. (Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens) TK2_9441TK2_94412018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 13th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
The celebrations ensued, with the usual, Champion t-shirt, special helmet and number 1 being affixed to the bike, with his team mate, Luke Mossey being the first to offer his congratulations. (Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens) TK7_1455TK7_14552018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 13th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
TK7_1476TK7_14762018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 13th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
The relief was evident on the faces of his team. Jack Valentine, Team Manager, Pete Extance, Team Principal and Dale Extance, Leon's Tyre Technician. (Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens) TK2_9698TK2_96982018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 13th October 2018.
Jack Valentine, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
TK2_9737TK2_97372018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 13th October 2018.
Pete Extance, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
TK2_9731TK2_97312018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 13th October 2018.
Dale Extance, JG Speedfit Kawasaki

Team Manager, Pete Extance, was also one of the first people to commiserate with Jake Dixon in parc ferme. (Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens) TK2_9740TK2_97402018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 13th October 2018.
Pete Extance, JG Speedfit Kawasaki, Jake Dixon, Dover, RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki
The weather forecast for Sunday was far from favourable and the second BSB race of the weekend was in difficult, wet conditions. With the Championship safely in the bag, Leon slipped and slid his way to and impressive victory. (Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens)

TK2_0233TK2_02332018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
Between Race 2 and Race 3, Leon's crew worked against the clock to fit commemorative livery to his Kawasaki ZX10-RR-2018. (Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens) TK7_1587TK7_15872018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
The final race of the 2018 season was again in very difficult conditions. In the post race press conference, Leon said he was just glad to finish! He had several big slides and on exiting Graham Hill bend even found the time to check his progress on the big screen! (Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens) TK2_0575TK2_05752018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
The post race celebrations 'take 2' ensued, but this time with Dave Hopkinson, Leon's Technician joining in, which I was pleased about, as he has been working tirelessly for his rider all season. (Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens)
TK7_1603TK7_16032018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
TK7_1657TK7_16572018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
TK7_1686TK7_16862018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
TK7_1694TK7_16942018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
A quick sprint up the hill into the pits and clamber onto pit wall enabled me to capture Leon returning to the start finish line and the canon of ticker tape. Followed by the mobbing of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Champion. (Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 DG OS HSM) TK1_7836TK1_78362018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
TK1_7859TK1_78592018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
Jack Valentine and Pete Extance celebrated collecting the Winning Team Trophy. (Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 DG OS HSM)
TK1_8190TK1_81902018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Jack Valentine, Pete Extance, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
Followed by Leon collecting the 2018 Championship Trophy. (Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 DG OS HSM) TK1_8307TK1_83072018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
TK1_8300TK1_83002018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
Also captured remotely from the top of the tower! (Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens) TK7_1885TK7_18852018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
TK7_1905TK7_19052018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki

The long evening of celebration pictures then began. Firstly of Leon in the pit box with his crew and then Dad, Ron. (Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens) TK7_2020TK7_20202018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
TK7_2049TK7_20492018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 14th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
Followed by some more organised studio images. (Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens) TKS01164TKS011642018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 13th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
TKS01172TKS011722018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 13th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki
TKS01198TKS01198 TKS01202TKS012022018 British Superbike Championship, BSB R12, Brands Hatch GP, Kent, UK. 13th October 2018.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki

Once again the Sigma Art and Sport lenses served me well over the weekend in difficult weather. They didn't miss a beat as they haven't all year.

A massive congratulations to Leon on a well deserved Championship and I would like to wish him all the best in the World Championship next season. I would also like to congratulate everyone at the JG Speedfit Kawasaki Team for their Championship win too and thank them for their hospitality throughout 2018. It has been a pleasure and honour.


Comments

Jo Lempriere(non-registered)
Great photography images of a Great Champion. Well Done to Leon and the team, and you for the pics
Pete Hicklin(non-registered)
Congratulations Leon on winning the championship very well deserved,also great photography and blog
Zoe(non-registered)
I would like to add my congratulations to Leon a well deserved champion. Good luck in your next venture in wsbks, and do yourself proud
Dez Weston(non-registered)
Great blog Tim , awesome photo’s to end a perfect season .
Bring on 2019 next year
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