The email arrives in the in-box, detailing the monthly assignments……………..yes, despite the evidence to the contrary on my pages there IS a plan. Most of the jobs follow the monthly themes, so some months I am more involved than others. In July the WTCC was in my neck of the woods, down the Hatch in fact. So mobilising his sense of mischief, Editor Rod gives me a hospital pass "The Art of WTCC"……………oh no, my shoulders slumped…….not more pretention about art or ART……………. ..because that is a good question, is what we do here ART? Reportage? Or some synthesis of the two? And who decides, the decidedly dodgy Court of Public Opinion?…………used to be known as The Mob, back in Caesar's day…………
Is this image on the art or technique side of the argument?
Is it less worthy as no chemicals were involved other than in the construction of the camera and lens, plus of course the computer gear that it is recorded and transmitted on? I remember we used to curse developing film and the pitfalls involved, but then again we did not shoot thousands of images, the cost would have been prohibitive? Whatever anyone's romantic image of pulling rolls of slides of of the reel is, the reality of dark-room existence is very different, especially while on the road after a full day behind the camera.
Is this image more virtuous because by a combination of experience, ability and lashings of luck I somehow shot it on full manual mode.
Actually all of that is meaningless except to the kind of geeks who used to argue how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.
What matters most in my view is that the imagery conveys to the readers, a flavour of what it was like to be there, trackside, up close and personal to the action. We are lucky enough to act as eyes and ears for the audience and that should be reward enough in itself, not blethering on about light and shadow and sunrise and sunset……………though I am a low light junkie as anyone who follows my output will attest.
However we do not for the most part live out lives at twilight…………be thankful for that.
So relieved of the burden of trying to be Van Gogh with a Canon or Nikon, we can go back to the simple art of story telling, KISS is not a bad first principle.
The 2009 WTCC is an intensely competitive Championship, fully deserving of its World status. There are three werks squads vying for supremacy, BMW, Chevrolet and SEAT. There is a healthy Independents' Cup and one or two others like Lada and Volvo looking at getting more fully involved. So full grids, great racing, political intrigue and chicanery, yup, ticks all the boxes for a FIA Championship.
There are three approaches from the factories to achieve victory. SEAT have front-wheel drive turbo diesels, BMW has petrol power to the rear wheels and Chevvy is FWD and petrol. All things being equal (and they are not) there is a system of ballasting to try and balance out the performance advantages that each solution brings, it all gets very complicated.
There are 24 races in the season, two per event and by the time Brands Hatch rolls round, races 15 and 16, the action on the track becomes much more simple from the factories' point of view. Amongst their rosters of drivers, one, possibly two, will have emerged as most likely to take title honours. At this point the rest of the team rallies round and helps them on the way. Certainly BMW have pushed Augusto Farfus to the head of their queue, while SEAT have their points leaders, Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini in the hot seats………….Chevrolet are not so easy to read.
So much for all that stuff, what about the ART? Well any kind of art is produced after a great deal of graft, there is no easy path to enlightenment, Grasshopper or not. So race one was looming up so it was decision time, stay in the stadium with all the paparazzi or head into the country and be alone in the forests. Easy to decide but the execution required crossing a hot track twice, so getting out early was the first task at hand, the race will happen whether I am in position or not. So a quick hike to the back of beyond was next.
The first lap………..the cars do not even get to me before the Safety Car is called out………….on the run up to Druids, World War 3 has broken out taking out several cars, including Yvan Muller, so no points for him in race one. This also messes up my start shot plans and I have to run around revising on the hoof. ART or opportunism?
Walking wounded straggle past during the first of several FCY periods.
The drivers still in the race also struggle, to keep tyre temperature and pressure optimal, and to keep their own concentration levels high. Here Rob Huff leans on the rights.
But that does not stop Alain Menu out fumbling him on the re-start and with a faster car he drove away.
Game over, Race One done and dusted.
For the second race, I figured that I would stay closer to home, even sneak down to the grid, to see what was on offer, strictly documentary style of course.
Evidence that the recession is really biting now, as there appears to be a cloth shortage for grid girls, will this crisis never end?
The crews really struggle with the undulations of Brands Hatch, dragging a huge amount of gear onto the grid, then dragging it off again on the Five Minute Board.
James Thompson is one of the better drivers in the pack. He lost out on several drives this year so was snapped up by the new Lada factory effort. The Red Box was much further up the grid than it deserved to be, all down to Thommo. Here, he contemplates the last moments of tranquility before the madness…………
Cloth shortages or not, there were gaps in the grandstands, even with the sumptuous package on offer.
The the lights go out and Farfus blasts off to take the field off on the next adventure………………….
DOH! All my plans go out the window as the heat from exhausts creates a haze that blurs the cars to colour blobs…………wait I know, think of the Monet, I am but an artist following in the footsteps of the French Impressionists……………yeah right. Balons more like……………
Then the pack rises above the heat but the shot is not as I had planned, too much street furniture and general clutter…………..oh well back to the drawing board,
The two Schnitzer BMWs are down the road it is a trio of SEATs bullying Andy Priaulx's BMW.
By the end of the lap, the casualties appear………………
As does the Safety Car, which is surely going to score points this weekend, having led for so many laps.
The track is cleared and off go the BMW's of Farfus with Joerg Muller riding shotgun.
Door to door through Surtees but clean mind you…………………..
The battle of the Independents goes off into the woods……………….
Alex Zanardi gets sideways with a little help from his friends………………..
Last lap, last corner…………..Farfus and BMW back in the hunt.
Another great set of races in the 2009 WTCC, as ever at Brands Hatch. Art? Maybe not, but entertainment certainly.