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Trackside Tuesday

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Above: Glen Irwin is a man fast on the roads and on the short circuits. He won the feature race at last year’s North West 200 and backed that up with a win in Macau. As I write this, he’s just won a race at the North West 200 on his Ducati.

If MotoGP contracts were handed out based solely on the character of a race track, then Oulton Park in England would be at the top of the list.

The city is set in the idyllic Cheshire countryside, only 30 miles from the Beatles hometown of Liverpool, and 13 miles from the historic city of Chester. The track is fast, techinical, with natural elevation changes and spectacular scenery.

There are few finer places to watch motorcycle racing when the sun is shining than at Oulton Park. The natural banking around the track offers great unobstructed views.

If you’re a keen photographer the circuit offers fantastic opportunities with very few fences getting in the way.

My journey to Macau for the 50th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix didn’t get off to the best of starts. I had just boarded my flight from Madrid to London, and discovered my tablet and laptop were missing from my bag.

After a few moments of panic, I came to the conclusion that they must have been stolen. I had spent three hours in the lounge at Madrid – someone must have taken them then.

It then slowly dawned on me what happened. When going through security, I had taken the laptop and tablet out of my bag as normal. After scanning my bag the security guy wanted all my camera gear out of the bag and sent me back.

I have no idea what makes Madrid security different to any other I have ever gone through, but obviously I wasn’t going anywhere if I didn’t do as instructed, so I emptied my gear into several trays and sent it back through.

Once everything was cleared I packed all my gear back into my bag, but left my laptop and tablet behind!

It’s hard to believe that another Isle of Man TT is almost upon us — the racing this year has the potential to be the best we’ve ever seen. With all the usual suspects back, the pace at the front is going to be hot.

Will we see the first 133 mph lap of the Mountain Course? Can anyone stop Michael Dunlop’s dominance? Will John McGuinness edge closer to the 26 wins of the legendary Joey Dunlop?

Then of course there’s the question that everyone is fed up of asking, can Guy Martin finally take his first win? This year could be his best chance as he’s arguably got the best machinery he’s ever had at the TT.

It is well known that Britain has not produced a Grand Prix World Champion since Barry Sheene, who was crowned 500cc champ in 1977.

In the late 1990’s, with no sign of that changing, British fans turned their attention to World Superbike in their bid to find someone to cheer for.

In recent years the fans have returned to Grand Prix racing, despite ongoing success in World Superbike. British riders have started to get competitive machinery, and there has even been the occasional 125 podium and race win to celebrate.

In 2012 things really started to look up for British fans with Cal Crutchlow flying the flag in the premier class.

Whilst riding for the Tech 3 Yamaha team he claimed two podium finishes. The following season he improved taking four podium finishes and two pole positions.

At the same time, Scott Redding was winning races in Moto2, and narrowly lost out to Pol Espagaro in the Championship race .

Meanwhile, Danny Kent, once heralded as The Great British hope was having a nightmare debut season in Moto2 on the uncompetitive Tech 3 Mistral.

While having a quick look through some pictures from Jerez, I stumbled across this one from the pre-event press conference that made me chuckle. I thought it would make for a funny “Caption This” post for the readers of Asphalt & Rubber.

I’ll start us off with: M.M.: “I’m a little concerned Dovi. The instructions said the swelling should go down within 4 hours. That was 5 hours ago and it still looks like this.

Over to you guys.

With the dust settled on the Spanish Grand Prix, the serious business of testing got under way at the Jerez Circuit this past Monday morning.

With a live track for eight hours, this is invaluable time for riders and teams to assess new parts, fine-tune existing parts, and go in search of the elusive setup.

For a photographer, a test is an all together more relaxing experience than a race weekend. With so much time available you can linger at locations and take your time wandering around the track.

Additional locations become available as the advertising boards, which are usually too high to shoot over, have been removed. Pit lane is almost deserted, and provides opportunities that are harder to pick out on a race weekend.

With that considered, I will leave you with the gallery below from Monday’s test.

At last weekend’s Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin I achieved a landmark moment in my fledgling MotoGP career. Thanks to Melanie at Asphalt & Rubber, I was the proud recipient of a Honda Ruckus scooter and what a revelation it was!

The ability to get from point to point with ease was a joy although I did have one small mishap, of sorts. On race day I had decided to photograph the MotoGP race from the outside of the track.

I started at Turn 1 and worked my round to Turn 10. After spending a couple of laps at Turn 10, I returned to my scooter and realised I was missing one of my cameras.

I’ve arrived in Austin and settled into my digs ahead of Round 2 of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship.

As I sat down to write ahead of the coming weekend, I thought back to one of my favorites times from last year.

I’d had a great holiday with my partner Clare prior to coming to the 2014 race and really enjoyed the Austin experience.

While thinking about the weekend I wondered as to what, if any, images still stood in my memory from last year. One I immediately thought of was the MotoGP podium selfie of Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez, and Andrea Dovizioso.

The Qatar Grand Prix always throws up a host of photo opportunities that simply couldn’t be captured anywhere else. With its unique status as the only race on the MotoGP calendar held at night under floodlights; there’s no mistaking a photograph taken in Qatar.

At this year’s race an opportunity to capture something different presented itself as Sunday’s schedule had been changed from previous years.

This meant that warm up for all three classes would be run in daylight with the MotoGP class out last at 5pm – which would hopefully be late enough in the day to capture a MotoGP bike against the setting sun.

Cal Crutchlow Losail grid 2014 Ducati Alpinestars Scott Jones

With the start of the 2015 MotoGP Season right around the corner, we have some more changes to the official regulations that govern MotoGP.

Some changes have been talked about for quite a while, such as that when a rider comes in to swap bikes during a flag-to-flag race, the waiting bike must be closer to the track than to the pit box; lower bodywork on the bikes must be designed to catch oil and other fluids that might leak (Moto2 and MotoGP bikes must be able to catch five liters of fluids, Moto3 bikes three and a half liters); and so on.

But some other items have been added to the rules that haven’t received much attention. Why am I thinking about all of this? Something just caught my eye that will directly affect my work as a photographer on the grid.