MCE Superbike Championship at Oulton Park – Sport Photography

Tyco Suzuki's PJ Jacobsen at Oulton Park
Tyco Suzuki’s PJ Jacobsen at Oulton Park

MCE Superbike Championship at Oulton Park

I’m at that stage now where having 2 young children seriously hampers my ‘own’ photography time. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t change this for the world but I needed to think of a way to turn this round. The answer, buy my 5 year old a camera and we’ll go out on ‘photo adventures’. Mummy can come to the MCE Superbike Championship at Oulton Park if she wants or she can have bonding time with baby. Everyones a winner!

Shane 'Shakey' Byrne leads the field at Oulton Park.
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne leads the field at Oulton Park.

Oulton Park

So this weekends adventure was to Oulton Park in Cheshire to watch Round 7 of the MCE British Superbike Championship. I’d taken Anthony earlier in the year to watch GT racing and we had a great time. That time by mistake, instead of driving in the main entrance we went round the side to the Shaw’s entrance. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as this part of the circuit is great to watch the racing. The viewpoint also allows you to park so close that you could watch from the car. This was very useful in April as it was raining.

So we headed for the same entrance, knowing it would be perfect. Today the weather was beautiful, a proper Summer’s day, which isn’t something we often say. We made our way in the car all the way round to Britten’s chicane and parked up.

Photographic Equipment

For any techies out there for all the shots in the Blog I used the same camera and lens combo. I didn’t want to be lugging bags and bags of lenses round with me. So my equipment of choice was a Canon 7D and fixed 400mm lens. The 400mm on a 7D (with the crop factor) made things a little tight on the exit of Britten’s. I do prefer the quality and faster aperture of a fixed telephoto over a zoom.

Luke Hedger leads the Superstock 600 race through Britten's
Luke Hedger leads the Superstock 600 race through Britten’s

This is where I am happy to admit that my choice in track position was 50% down to the thought process that a chicane seems like a good spot. The other 50% was down to the fact that I knew Anthony would want to keep going back to the car.

Getting the best Position

This was was my first attempt at photographing motorbikes on a track. I’d done the usual searches like ‘best part of the track to take photographs‘ or ‘photographing motorbikes at Oulton Park’ and seen lots of great photos. What I concluded was most were by photographers with passes to the inside of the fence. So I just used what common sense I have and headed for the chicane.

The BMW Buildbase Team riders at Oulton Park
The BMW Buildbase Team riders at Oulton Park

BMW Buildbase Team

Now what I hadn’t factored in is that although I could see over the tyre wall to the chicane, a 5 year old can’t! So Anthony was getting a little frustrated with blurred pictures of tyres and the back of marshall’s heads. So we moved between Britten’s and the exit of the Shell Oil Corner which leads into it. The photo above of the 2 BMW Buildbase team riders is taken on this short but very fast exit to the corner.

Photographing a Bike Crash

It was out of this corner and onto the straight that Josh Owens’ race finished. He exited Shell Oil Corner too wide pushing him onto the grass. With slick tyres and the exit speed involved there was no avoiding a face full of dirt. Bikers are a tough bunch though and he dusted himself off and walked away. You need to have fast reactions also as a photographer if you want to capture the action. I spotted him going onto the grass in the corner of my eye and quickly get him frame.

Josh Owens crashes out of Monster Energy Motostar Championship
Josh Owens crashes out of Monster Energy Motostar Championship

Rule of Thirds

The photograph of Tom Booth-Amos below, was a shot I visualised but needed a single rider to make it happen. I know everyone has heard of the rule of thirds in photography and I think this is why the composition of this image works. It is probably my favourite photograph from the day.

Tom Booth-Amos down the hill out of Shell Oil Corner
Tom Booth-Amos down the hill out of Shell Oil Corner

Below is a shot of Jenny Tinmouth as she leans through Britten’s. Jenny is the only female rider in the 2013 BSB season and clearly wants to be moving up the ranks.

Jenny Tinmouth leans through the Britten's chicane
Jenny Tinmouth leans through the Britten’s chicane

I don’t doubt that there are other fantastic corners or areas of the track, and the paddock would provide great photographs too, but with a 5 year old walking miles just wasn’t an option.

So I’ll leave you with a couple of photograph of the season’s Title Fighters. The first photo pretty much sums up the top of the leader board with Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne a fraction ahead of the Tyco Suzuki teams Josh Brookes. How will the season end?

Shane 'Shakey' Byrne inches ahead of Josh Brookes
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne inches ahead of Josh Brookes

Lastly, although there were 3 separate race winners on the day. The overall leader in the race so far is Shakey. So here he is waving to the fans.

Shane 'Shakey' Byrne waves to the camera
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne waves to the camera

Summary

So for me it was a fun day out with Anthony at the MCE Superbike Championship and we both had a great time taking photo’s. I would recommend that if other photographers are unsure what area of the track to head for at Oulton Park for photography, Britten’s chicane would be a great option. I hope you enjoyed the Blog, I’m going to keep adding personal projects and fun photographs.

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