Working with a Champion
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.
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. 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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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)
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) 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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
Great photography images of a Great Champion. Well Done to Leon and the team, and you for the pics
Congratulations Leon on winning the championship very well deserved,also great photography and blog
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
Great blog Tim , awesome photo’s to end a perfect season .
Bring on 2019 next year
No comments posted.