The Speedhunters trip to the Dubai 24H will certainly go down as one of our most exotic and inspiring experiences to date.
I absolutely loved the laid back and friendly nature of the event, as well as the diversity of machinery.
The Speedhunters team had access to all areas of the Dubai Autodrome and ran around with our video and still cameras without anyone really paying us much mind. This chilled out feeling made shooting the race all the more enjoyable.
Dubai itself is a rather jaw-dropping, futuristic place to visit -a fantastic and unique convergence of east and west. The Dubai race track is also very close to the city centre which for an urbanite like me was pure godsend. Too often most race tracks are in the middle of no-where… not so in Dubai!
Check the view from the world's tallest building!
The race itself was a little bit lopsided towards the GT2 spec IMSA Racing Porsches. Personally I would have preferred to see GT3 be the maximum specification of race car at the event. It would have made the on-track action at the front of the grid more exciting.
One of the most fun machines to behold on track was the lone Mustang.
There's really nothing like the sound of a thundering V8 engine!
So for this post I'll also show you a few odds and ends from the paddock area.One car that caught my eye was this red Seat. At first, I thought it was a race-inspired street car, but it's in fact an unliveried race car.
Donkervoort FTW! I think these Dutch Darth-Vader machines are the coolest!
Although my main role during the race was to shoot Patrick Soderlund's racing experiences, I did make a point of visiting Taniguchi and Orido's pit area from time to time. Here I caught Orido getting ready for his first stint of the race.
The car quickly appeared in front of the garage…
Air jacks meant that it was instantly up in the air and ready for new rubber.
… and just as quickly as the pit stop started, it was over. Orido disappeared down the pitlane and onto the track.
BTW our NFS Porsche was racing closely against Orido's BMW for
the majority of the race. They did eventually pull out some laps over
us when we hit trouble… until the end of the race that is.
There was a local break dance crew hanging out in the back of the paddock. Was cool to see a little pocket of youth culture in an otherwise traditional motorsports racing crowd.
Some traditional UAE arts and culture were also showcased for the western visitors including several Falcons. The art of "Falconry" is an integral part of desert life which has been practiced in this part of the world for centuries. They are stunningly beautiful creatures!
… or would you choose this one?
As the night grew thick, cars started to fall by the wayside. Here one of the teams tries to revive their damaged machine with the use of the force.
Some of the fully dead race cars were being pillaged for parts.
This Clio seemed to have given up its complete engine and transaxle to another car…
Meanwhile a street V8 Vantage was being cannibalized for the sake of one of the race cars… madness!
I'm pretty amazed at how fast Jonathan Moore works. Not only are his photos top notch, but he get's them posted up on Speedhunters in record time!
Miki Taka on the other hand didn't last too long into the night before the need for sleep overtook her.
Here our car goes though a scheduled change of disc pads.
Night… sound… speed… lights… a perfect combination of elements.
Did I mention we had the run of the Dubai Autodrome? We even snuck into some partially completed grandstands in the middle of the night… no one seemed to mind. Not even the security guard!
Will was using both a video and still camera for his upcoming Speedhunters films.
There's really nothing like the atmosphere of night endurance racing and I'm sure the latest generation of cameras will showcase this style of racing as never seen before.
Miki must have been annoyed that we woke her up to do a video shoot out in the darkness of the night.
She's a good sport though and thoroughly enjoyed her first proper circuit race event. She's currently writing up a blog about her experiences in Dubai.
I also tried my hand at some atmospheric style night shooting. Not too bad for someone that can barely operate a pro photo camera!
After we returned to the media room, Miki disappeared into our rental car to get some sleep but I kept Will awake to shoot sunrise. The poor thing was struggling to stay conscious LOL.
Here's a pitlane shot shortly after sunrise. Nice and atmospheric.
By the time noon rolled around we were all feeling pretty grim… the best thing to do was drive out to the back of the circuit to shoot more race action. Running around with cameras helps to keep the blood flowing and thus you don't fall asleep.
Heading back into the pit area, just before the end of the race, I saw that some teams were already packing their cars up into the shipping containers.
Orido's BMW had completely blown up with the finish line in sight… poor guys!
This M3 was sporting a full V10 conversion. I don't recall seeing it on track though.
I leave you with a shot of Taniguchi on the back of a camel on his way to the podium ceremony.
This will be my final Dubai post, but we still have some blog posts coming from Patrick Soderlund and Miki Taka to get their own take on the event…