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My first WEC experience!

Please head over to the gallery page to see my photo’s of the event:

https://tomclancyphotography.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/6hrs-of-silverstone/

The Le Mans 24hr race of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) has always interested me as a real spectacle in motorsport, but being abroad and with coverage on pay-to-view TV it’s never been something that I could just jump into. So last year I began thinking about going to the 6hrs of Silverstone as a way to introduce me to the sport; something which was boosted when Mark Webber announced his move to the sport with Porsche from F1. I booked my tickets!

The sun was shining as I arrived at Silverstone just after 9.00am on Friday morning. I should have guessed the circuit wouldn’t let me off that lightly with the weather and stepping out of the car I was suddenly hit by the circuits classic wind chill; extra layers were quickly applied! Walking in to the track, I soon made my way over to The Wing paddock area.

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The WEC paddock (photo taken from iPhone)

WEC Practice 1 didn’t start until 11.55am and being a less busy day I was hoping that I might be able to see Mark Webber at some point before this for an autograph.

The open access to the paddock is something else that had really attracted me to this event and it’s something I wish Formula 1 would perhaps find a way to bring back. Walking down to the Porsche garage it was great to be in amongst the teams as they set up for the day; it helped build the excitement and make you feel much more a part of the action.

Tyre’s were being prepared

Porsche even had pushbikes for the team to get around on

Outside Porsche there was a small group of people waiting for a glimpse of Mark Webber. It had definitely been the right decision to try and get an autograph from him at this time as it was only going to get busier and in fact it was only a 15mins wait before he was seen walking through the paddock!

I was really impressed with the time Mark spent with the fans, he made a real effort to sign for as many people as he could on his way to the garage and even engaged in conversation.

Mission accomplished!

Now to make my way trackside and start taking some photo’s.

Crossing under to the outside of the circuit at Copse corner, the old National Pits Straight was the first place I experienced the WEC cars and immediately I was struck by the impressive sounds that emanated from the cars, as well as how different they all sounded. The turbocharged engines were a joy to listen to as the cars accelerated out of Luffield and through Woodcote!

Being Friday the vast majority of grandstands were closed and it was proving difficult to find places from which to photograph the cars around this part of the circuit that weren’t compromised by fencing; my 70-300mm lens also seemed to have developed a fault where it would snap in and out of focus. But I carried on regardless and settled down at Luffield for a while watching the cars through the infield section and exiting the hairpin.

The Brooklands, Luffield section of track, overlooked by the BRDC clubhouse

After lunch I made my way to the International Pit Straight and it was photographing from here that I was blown away by the Le Mans Prototype (LMP1) cars! Their incredible grip and speed around Club corner allowed them to simply hunt down any other car in front of them and their sheer acceleration out of the corner powered them to majestic overtakes down the main straight.

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The Porsche LMP1 overtaking the Ferrari 458

They were in a class of their own and it was an absolute joy to watch them!

I came back to Silverstone on the Saturday to spend some more time trackside photographing the cars from Club and the International Pits Straight during Practice 3, before making my way back over to the paddock.

A bustling paddock (photo taken from iPhone)

It was much busier, but particularly around the Porsche garage where this time there were multiple crowds waiting to see Mark Webber and I was thankful I’d been there on the previous morning! His fellow driver Brendon Hartley was out and about signing autographs and filming an interview. It seemed a far more relaxed environment for the WEC drivers than those in F1; being less recognisable to many meant they were free to walk around the paddock largely uninterrupted. Jackie Stewart was also there, but what was even more of a surprise was so was Adrian Newey! ‘Why aren’t you in China for the Grand Prix?’ I thought, and it turned out that like so many others he was there to see Mark Webber too. It was funny hearing the Silverstone radio commentators joking that he might be there to learn a thing or two about the LMP1 energy recovery systems and power trains given Renault and Red Bull’s early season struggles.

I decided to watch Qualifying from the infield, something I hadn’t really done at the circuit before and it also allowed me the opportunity to photograph the cars moving from left to right.

The crowds gathered at Club corner (photo taken from iPhone)

I had a fantastic two days at Silverstone with the World Endurance Championship. They do a great job of making you feel involved with the sport throughout the weekend and it’s a fantastic sight to  watch. I’ll definitely be going to more events in the future!

Please head over to the gallery page to see my photo’s of the event:

https://tomclancyphotography.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/6hrs-of-silverstone/

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Categories: Uncategorized
Posted by tomclancy on April 24, 2014

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