Ed Fahey

Adventures – Saloon,Sportscar/GT racing

Posts Tagged ‘ITCC’

ITCC Rounds 7/8 – The Finals

Posted by Ed Fahey on September 29, 2010

Catch me if you can...

Rounds 7/8 of the Irish Touring Car Championship and again at Mondello, except this time on the longer 3.5km ‘international’ circuit that in the past was used for the British Touring Car Championship, so I concentrated most of my efforts on the longer track, as there are a few interesting sections on it not to mention the cars can stretch their legs a bit more.

Instead of a race overview, Ill be describing what I was actually doing on this day – the role of official photographer, interspersed with what happened during the races.

In the points, Martin Tracey in his Westward Engineering Ford Sierra RS500 just needed good results to secure the championship, with Stephen Maher in the S Maher Construction BMW M3 Compact in a similar position to take the rookie championship.

A different view of Mondello

Out for qualifying and a slightly different area I found to take pics was the outside of Turn 3 – purely for the climb and drop into Turn 4, making Mondello Park look like Lime Rock Park almost. Its a rarely photographed part of Mondello and Im surprised more photographers dont go there. Maybe its due to the long walk or that you need a 4×4 if you want to drive there…

Turn 3 also backs onto Turn 5/Lola which is one of the faster bends on the track, so a quick run (through mud and wet grass usually) and you have 2 decent corners to photograph. With there being 3 ITCC sessions today (qualifying and 2 races) there was more time to move about the track.

In qualifying it was Brian Sexton in the Jomo Engineering Mitsubishi Evo 6 on pole, over half a second ahead of Martin Tracey in the Westward Engineering Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth and Johnny Whelan in his very yellow Bikez.ie Peugeot 306 making up the Top 3 on the grid with Barry Rabbitt in the Tuning Factory Integra 4th. Unfortunatley for Sexton, the Evo expired during qualifying and sadly for him he was unable to take his place on the grid, so Tracey and everyone else moved up a spot.

Action - everywhere

Onto the first race and I head to Turns 7a/7b a double right hander and one of the main overtaking spots on the International track, as its at the end of a reasonable length straight so its a prime outbraking spot. This corner is a good bit into the ‘lap’ so any early attacks are over and the race is settling down as they approach me. Tracey is already pulling ahead as usual, excpet he has Whelan not too far away and who closes right in under braking for 7a. These 2 pull away slowly leaving Rabbitt, Philip Burdock in his B-Racing Honda Civic and Tomas O’Rourke in his Ferrybank Motors Opel Astra to squabble among themselves, while all down through the field there are battles, there are not any cars on their own, everyone seems to have at least one car to battle with, which makes for some great photos, but with only 8 laps I had to move along quickly to capture different angles of the action, so from 7b, about half way up, then onto the apex of Turn 8/Birranes bends to catch the cars riding the kerbs.

Squabbling For the record Matrin Tracey held on to win, after being pushed almost the entire way by Johnny Whelan, who then suffered braking issues and ended up in the gravel at turn 3 as a result, but it was good to see Tracey being given a bit of a run instead of casually walking away with the race.

After this exciting race, could it get any better? Yes it could!

Race 2, and I decided to go on the inside of the approach to Lola which backs onto Devaneys, a double left hander which then leads the cars back into Bikeworld and rejoins the shorter track, so I could walk between the 2 bends and get more of the frequent action and like the last race was almost entirely groups of cars circulating rather than cars on their own.

Into Lola...

Race 2 and Barry Rabbitt was the man on the move, getting into second behind Johnny Whelan, behind Martin Tracey who led from the lights. Whelan then overcame Rabbit, Tomas O’Rourke then also got past Rabbitt, leaving him to scrap it out with Philip Burdock once again as he had done in the first race, and apart from the various retirements or the lead few cars thats the only recollections I can give of the race, since I concentrated on photos, given the fast and furious action going on all around me, overtaking and just general dicing, it was certainly the finest racing Id seen in a long time and all clean too with no deliberate contact! Martin Tracey stayed ahead to win and to seal the inagural ITCC championship, with Stephen Maher sealing the Rookie championship

My colleague Stephen, however was tasked with making notes of what happened during the day, and his report of the day can be seen here

Ed Fahey – September 2010

Addional photos from the day can be seen here

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ITCC Round 6

Posted by Ed Fahey on September 8, 2010

Preparing to qualify

Round 6 of the Irish Touring Car Championship and again at Mondello. Just one round today with a non championship race also. After the carnage of the previous 2 rounds it was refreshing to see the damaged cars back, along with stern warnings to play fair, as if you want full contact, go banger racing!

The weather was pleasant on this day too, with clear skies giving fine conditions, both on track and to allow for good photos, although personally I like dark skies too, but its one or the other unless you are at Spa!

Instead of a race overview, Ill be describing what I was actually doing on this day – the role of official photographer, interspersed with what happened during the races.

Qualifying and I decided to go to the inside of Dunlop, which is the last corner before going down the start/finish straight, a good spot to capture side on pans and also when people outbrake themselves and either lockup or end up in the big gravel trap around the outside of the bend if they get it wrong.. Also the pit exit is behind you so you can get the cars coming into and pits and nice shots of them going onto the start/finish straight.Qualifying produced only one drama, and one that I had anticipated – Paul O’Brien suffered a stuck throttle on his Scirocco and took a trip into the gravel as a result… I had gambled correctly and I got lucky. Not always though!

Gravel splashdown!

The short races coupled with the amount of action packed into them means its not possible to move between corners without the possibility of missing something, whatever that may be! For the race I decided to go to the Esses, one of the main overtaking spots on the track and away from Turn 1 (or Honda) completely, unlike most other photographers, who seem to stick to that corner at every single meeting… Their loss as it later turned out!

Time to leave!

The race itself didnt last long before 2 incidents occured which called for a restart – Jimmy Hughes in his Integra went off into, you guessed it the gravel at Dunlop while Brian Moore’s Impreza suffered a broken fuel line right infront of me and the car went up in flames quite dramatically, at first when the car approached it looked like he had lost a wheel with the flames looking like sparks as they licked under the car, but as soon as he realised what was happening and pulled up the fire quickly took hold, but the Mondello track team were quickly there to put it out.

Onto the restart and as before it was pole sitter Martin Tracey in the Westward Engineering

Trying to hold on..

Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth out front, pursued initially by Barry Rabbitts Tuning Factory Honda Integra, Tracey going on for yet another win, Rabbitt having to back off with a suspension problem, better to settle for second place rather than push and end up in the gravel. Philip Burdock in the B-Racing Civic and Donal Arundel in the shrill sounding Mazda MX6 were a distant third and fourth, with Stephen Maher in the his BMW 3-series

Midfield battle

compact fifth but behind them a close scrap for sixth with a train of cars going around constantly swopping places, but not swopping paint, which for a change made for some crowded photos throughout the race and not just for the first few laps.

The second race was a non championship, non points race so a few people elected to sit it out and let others have their fun, mainly the top 2 cars from race one. I decided to risk it and shoot from the outside of Dunlop as you can get the cars coming over the crest into the corner, and if someone else went into the gravel Id have a head on shot, but not this time.

The finishing results from the first race decided the grid so it was Philip Burdock on pole with Donal Arundel alongside. The real mover though

Side by side by side

was Stephen Maher who lept into the lead at the start but a spin put him back down the order somewhat and he then valiantly fought his way back up, to 3rd until mechanical issues sidelined him, elsewhere Phil Brennan in the Octane.ie Rover 25,Keith Rabbitt in his MINI and Paul O’Brien in his Scirocco engaged in 3 abreast racing down the strart/finish straight which made the grandstand jump to attention, a brief safety car period bunched the field up again but Burdock held on for his first ITCC win, not for points but still there is satisfaction about crossing the line 1st.

The final two rounds take place soon at Mondello except on the full international circuit, and it will be interesting to see what changes if any to the racing this will bring.

Ed Fahey – September 2010

For more photos click here

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ITCC Rounds 4/5

Posted by Ed Fahey on August 11, 2010

Rounds 4 and 5 of the Irish Touring Car Championship (ITCC) and back to Mondello Park for a damp, exciting and controversial race. I had been absent from Round 3, due to being at Le Mans so was welcomed back to Mondello with the traditional Irish weather of rain. It was going to be an interesting day.

Instead of a race overview, Ill be describing what I was actually doing on this day – the role of official photographer, interspersed with what happened during the races.

There would be 3 ITCC sessions, qualifying and 2 races, with the grid for the second race being decided on the results of the first with a partially reversed grid.

With a full grid the action was to come thick and fast and for some people a little too quick! Its amazing what rain can do to either upset or improve motorsport, to see who is more prepared both in terms of driving and car setup/tyre selection…

Qualifying Onto qualifying and its a hike to Turn 3, a double apex right which leads into a small crest. The double apex catches people out and it also one of the best out braking/overtaking spots on the track. The wet conditions on and off track mean its an interesting hike out there with mud and wet grass to avoid but its worth it as its one of the few corners of Mondello where you are down low, almost at track level, as opposed to being up on the banking that surrounds most of the track, then after I had got my safety shots, it was time to get creative with some very low shutter speed stuff and zoom bursts. 1/40 - I can go lower!

Later it was back to the pits and unlike most sportscar events I attend there was little pit activity, so not many oppurtunities to get candid photos of people, but then again most of the ITCC cars dont have upwards of 10-15 people to look after them, its mainly the drivers themselves who double up as mechanics or have some dedicated friends who come along to help, but the amount of comradery is high with ontrack rivals always helping each other offtrack whether its borriwing tools or full on repair mode, as the more cars on track the better with more competition! After a wet start it finally appeared that the weather was set to clear up for the first race

Race 1 Start!

Onto race 1 and this time I decided to go to Turn 1 or Honda as its better known to get the usual shot of the cars rushing to the first corner and the expected panel bashing that would occur here also. Its best to bring the shutter speed up reasonably high here to freeze the cars as they rush to the corner. Also the fact I was viewing the cars ‘head on’ meant that there were no wheels visible so the effects of a high shutter speed are not as noticeable with the small amount of spray giving the ‘movement’  aspect to the photo also. The first corner was clean with no major contact and the race seemed to be settling down until some sloppy driving let to both heavy contact and a lot of pushing on turn 1 with 3 cars eliminated immediatley and a lot of repair work needed afterwards in the pits but for some cars it was game over for the day. The safety car was deployed twice during the race and ended up finishing under it also, Barry Rabbitt in the Tuning Factory Integra had been on course for a win, but an oil fire led to a retirement in the closing stages and allowing Martin Tracey in the Westward Engineering Sierra to win, his 3rd of the season.

Race 2 StartRace 2,I positioned myself at Turn 2, which also gives easy access to Turn 4, and the rain started to fall not long before the cars went out so some took a gamble on slicks, others wets and some with wets on the back. The weather gods decided the rain was to stay so those who went for a full wet setup reaped their decisions. At turn 1 there was a bit more argy bargy except this time it appeared far more deliberate with a retaliation or 2 from race 1 and it ended up with people getting their hands slapped severly in the form of endorsements on their race licences.

For me it was a case of protect my lens from the rain,and keep the rain off it so no drops of water were present to ruin the photos, as there is nothing worse than ruined pics, when it is something avoidable! After about 5 mins the rain stopped falling, but it didnt stop the cars from being affected by it, Turn 2 is notorious when it is wet and I will nearly always position myself there when it is wet, to catch people being caught out by it, as you must take it lightly and not attack it as you would in the dry, a spin is often the result! Nobody spun, but there were a few ‘moments’ to be caught!

With the partially reversed grid there was a lot more overtaking than normal as the faster cars made their way through to the frontSplashdown...., but with a few hard charging performances midfield also, mainly Philip Burdock in the B-Racing Civic who after a midfield start was into second place and slowly reeling in Martin Traceys Sierra, so this made for a few photo oppurtunites as the bright orange Civic passed and outbraked several, eventually coming within sight of Traceys black Sierra, but it wasnt to be with water pump failure sending the car into retirement, but at least not engine failure and the car will be back for Round 6.

So 2 interesting and at times controversial races were over, time to try and capture some of the tired but happy faces at the end on the podium, and for once people are more than happy to smile for the camera as the trophys and bubbly are presented not to mention the traditional spraying that quickly turns into a spraying fight, but its the one side of motorsport that always raises a smile!

View the full gallery here

The next round will be at Mondello on August 22nd


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ITCC Round 2

Posted by Ed Fahey on May 27, 2010

Qualifying

Round 2 of the ITCC and we are off to Kirkistown in Northern Ireland, Irelands ‘other’ permanent motor sport circuit. Unlike Mondello, Kirkistown is build on an old airfield so is a basically long straights connected by some fast and slow bends and chicanes including the notorious Debtors bend, a flat out kink leading into the 1st corner,Colonial. A similar track to Snetterton in the UK. An early start was needed as the track is 2 hours drive away as opposed to 30mins for Mondello, a scenic but interesting drive, whacking a duck with the car, certainly woke us up after the 5am start. Onto the track itself and the Snetterton comparisons continued with the constant wind and bad smell from the nearby sewage plant….

Not to be too concerned with the conditions but it was easy to see that this is a fast track, the strategically placed chicanes combined with the massive runoffs and the long straights, together with the heavily kerbed chicanes, which are the circuits main overtaking areas.

Riding the Kerbs

Onto qualifying and the ITCC grid were mixed into the local saloon racing series which inturn was mixed in with the local GT series, so the unusual sight was to be had of a Porsche 996,Ferrari 360,Lotus Elise and spaceframe Opel Tigra mixing it with the saloons, the northern ones consisting of a few ex BTCC / single make series cars too like V6 Vectras (remember them) and Seat Leons along with a very quick RX7. Kirkistown is a power track, so many of the fast Hondas from Mondello wouldnt have the power to make the most of Kirkistowns long straights, granted they would be fast through the bends and chicanes but left behind elsewhere. At the front, Brian Sexton used his Irish Time Attack championship-winning JOMO Engineering Lancer Evo in the touring car series after engine repairs to the Urban Per4mance Integra could not be completed in time, and set a searingly quick lap of 1:03.715, which was bettered only by GT-class runner Pat McBennett in his Lotus Elise overall. Round 1 winner Martin Tracey lined up second on the ITCC grid in his Westward Engineering Sierra Cosworth,with Barry Rabbitt (Tuning Factory CRX) and Tomas O’Rourke (Astra) were the third- and fourth-place ITCC qualifiers respectively, lining up alongside each other in 11th and 12th spot on the overall grid.

Race on!

The local GT cars were released 10 seconds ahead of the saloons and Sexton got a great start, but made a mistake at Colonial allowing O’Rourke, who had made an even better start than he had in Round 1 to temporarily get past, but sadly a broken throtte cable spelled the end for O’Rourke, it wasnt his day at all as he had some heavy repairs in the pits after losing a wheel during qualifying, all in vain, but as is often said – thats racing and he will be back. At the front Tracey had caught up to Sexton and this led to a titanic battle for the ITCC lead with both cars never more than 2-3 car lengths apart, the slick tyre shod Sierra and the semi slick Evo (4WD cars are not allowed to run slicks under ITCC rules) having the tough task of both lapping the slower saloons and having to give way to the faster GT’s. The Evo had the straightline speed whereas the Sierra had the cornering speed, so it was an interesting battle which lasted almost until the end of the race with the Evo running out of fuel, but Brian limped it home for second and for many people his performance was drive of the day.

Through the chicane

Apart from the epic battle at the front there was action all down the field, both ITCC and the local saloon series. Barry Rabbit in the Tuning Factory CRX recorded another 3rd place and once again was fighting with a misfire all day. Jonathan Brady was 4th, the Tuning Factory Integra having a race long battle with Stephen Mahers Civic, both rookie ITCC drivers, the highest qualifying rookie, James Collen in his Supercharged Peugeot 306 was an early retirement but will be one to watch in the future. Another race long battle was at the rear between Keith Rabbitt in his MINI and Fran Kearns in yet another Civic, who had to battle with a broken clutch aswell as an aggressive MINI pilot, Kearns earning the days hard charger award for his performance.

Round 2 of the ITCC was a resounding success, Round 3 will take place at Mondello on June 13th, but alas Im away to Le Mans in France for the 24 hour race.

Ed Fahey – May 2010

Click here for my Fotopic Gallery of this event

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