Trackside Tuesday: Up Over Down Under

10/22/2013 @ 10:50 pm, by Scott Jones7 COMMENTS


Whatever your opinion about Sunday’s Australian GP (a farce of mismanagement and tire failure; the most exciting race for years, or; something in between), I’m guessing you were thinking at its conclusion something like “Never seen anything like that before!”

For my own part, I have never photographed anything like that race before, simply because there has never been a MotoGP race with a mandatory, scheduled pit stop before.

When the news first broke in the Media Center that the race would be divided into two sections by a mandatory pit stop, I started imaging in the fantastic images this would make possible.

But as I considered where I would set up in pit lane to photograph the mayhem of riders coming in to swap bikes, an announcement made its way through the media center that all but the official Dorna photographers would be banned from pit lane during the race.

This received a cool welcome from the photographers, as we saw this opportunity for unique images taken away as quickly as it had appeared. But with some reflection we realized it was was clearly the right move. Had Dorna not made this decision, nearly every photographer with pit lane access would’ve been there for laps 8-11, making an already hectic scene even more dangerous.

So instead we huddled in groups to plan strategies, considering where we might go to get some perspective of the pit lane action during the bike swapping. We considered the roof that overlooks pit lane, but that was also taken away as an option because it’s used for the VIP hospitality viewing.

Across the track was no good because of distance and the fence that separates the track itself from pit lane. Neither end of pit lane offered a good vantage point, even if we could convince security to allow us to shoot from there.

In the end, only the Media Center itself seemed viable, even though we knew it would be packed with photographers as the only decent option. In fact we were all very lucky that this happened at Phillip Island, where the Media Center has floor to ceiling glass facing pit lane. Any many other tracks, shooting from this space simply wouldn’t have worked at all.

The Media Center was crowded when I came in from shooting the first third of the race. Given the pace with which the riders appeared, jumped from one bike to the other, and departed, we had to pick a garage to look down on and try to capture one bike change. The spaces over the Yamaha and Honda garages were tightly packed with shooters hoping to get something good.

I picked Marquez, and my efforts to shoot through angled, reflective, and green-tinted glass produced a couple of acceptable images, the above example being my favorite. Though Marc’s helmet and shoulders are sharp, his feet are blurred with the movement of leaping over his second bike, and the perspective of looking over the action from up above is not bad either.

From pit lane the Dorna shooter got these and I have to say I like the view from up over just fine, though I would’ve like the chance to get a variety of riders rather than having to stick with one spot and wait for the chosen rider to appear.

Once Marc left pit lane, most of us returned to the track to document the race’s conclusion, making the bike swap itself little more than a pit stop for photographers, as well.

Thus it turned out to be quite different from what I had imagined when we first heard about the scheduled pit stop. But it was also part of a memorable weekend, and from now on I will look for opportunities to shoot though the media center glass when that seems a possibility for something different.

Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blogTwitter, & Facebook.

All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

  • smiler

    We should thank Dorna for monopolising the media around MotoGP as well. With @1min of footage of the race for free every Monday.

  • Mariano

    If you’re not happy with one minute FREE videos I suggest you pay a MotoGP subscription like I, and many others, do…..

  • Norm G.

    re: “We should thank Dorna for monopolising the media around MotoGP as well. With @1min of footage of the race for free every Monday.”

    come off the dime.

    if you’re a TRUE race fan and not a “free lunch seeker”…? logic dictates this is what you would do.

  • KSW


    Check your link to the horrid shots from the Golden Goose Dorna photographer. It’ going to a different gallery.

    As MotoGP is supposed to be where the best and most experienced are I’m appalled at how that went down and wonder why the “Press” tolerated that. First up, pit stops aren’t new in the world of motorcycle racing and I’ve shot more than a few races with pit stops in the past few months alone. The teams and riders are all experienced and have competed in races with pit stops so why the no access. Like to see them try that at WEC events, Real Road racing and I’m not limiting that to Ireland and the TT. As Dorna only lets a limited number of bibbed shooters in the pits anyway how bad could it have been?

    What is missing from all this is a tight shot of the track surface, tight shot of a tire which it seems both could have been done prior to Sunday as the word was rampant about the track and tires. Did no one practice pit stops and that’s why we have no images of any kind demonstrating what a pit stop takes? If I was shooting or covering the event my story on the pit stops would have been short and went like this. ” Due to restrictions put in place by Dorna we have no images or story to tell.” I can’t help but think that if a legitimate news organization gave true coverage to MGP this wouldn’t happen because it couldn’t happen with blatant disregard to news gathering and freedom of the press. When I worked for the PGA Tour the working press laughed at us when management tried putting up restrictions.

    Nice shot Scott given what you had to work with. The view from above at Le Mans is much better as you know.

  • Peter G

    Thank heavens I don’t shoot motor racing anymore …. Who needs the stress and hassles.?

  • Daws

    KSW – Access was restricted during the MotoGP race because the Pitlane at Phillip Island is very skinny. They even ran the bare minimum of race officials in pitlane to keep the numbers of people (and therefore the chance of a collision) to a minimum.

    Great pic Scott, but I prefer the Johann Zarco scooter wheelie photobomb ;) He was wheelying that poor bike everywhere!

  • KSW


    Thanks mate. Funny that LaGuna was removed from the schedule (money, fans, etc. acknowledged) due to track not being up to standards as a primary reason. So, does that mean PI will also loose it’s race unless they upgrade the facilities? Uh, no.

    I too, like Scott, was expecting to have better documentation of that event. Sad that it was so restricted. If those of us who shoot full time and races with pit stops know how the “dance” is done in an active pit it surely can’t be beyond the full time bibbed photogs like Scott.

    I still think the best way to increase racing and fans would be to add a pit stop. I know that F1 must not be real racing as defined by Dani and others like my friend Mr. Parrish but honestly it would add to the racing and fan experience.