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Kingsbury GP

My “Not A Race Report” – Kingsbury GP

I love photographing at Kingsbury. In terms of vantage points there are few places I’ve been with as many options as Kingsbury. Where else can you, within a 3 metre radius, go from being sitting down almost at water-level to standing up roughly 3 metres above the water level, and in either position be less than 10 metres from the passing boats? The other selling point it has is that it isn’t actually that big to walk around, although next year I think I’ll take a bike (purely to get around faster).

DSC_7977On Saturday, the weather was, let’s say “changeable”, but this never deters anyone involved. Qualifying got underway and I soon began to feel like this could be a pivotal weekend in the season. In the GT15 boats, Thomas, Jonny and Harvey all looked quick and I felt it could have gone the way of any one of them. In the GT30’s it was also close at the front, with Jack Pickles making a welcome appearance in the top 3. The T850 pack showed just how much they enjoy racing around Kingsbury, putting in some very enthusiastic performances and showing plenty of boat bottoms, and the bolstered F4 pack were equally enthusiastic.

Being able to get so close to the water enables spectators to see the variety of lines the drivers use first hand. Sitting on the bank before the islands as the boats round the top turn, you can see really clearly the difference between the drivers who keep their line tight out of the turn and those who let their boat run out wide. Heading for the gap between the bank and the islands, the boats come close. Really close.

Kingsbury_20160703_51334For photographers I guess there are two main choices: set the shutter speed high and shoot the boats coming towards you, or set it low and pan with the boats as they pass. There are of course opportunities to experiment within these bounds, but at Kingsbury, either of these approaches should produce results to be pleased with.

The other thing that I noticed more at Kingsbury than I have anywhere before was the efforts the drivers take to stick as close as possible to their prefered line but at the same time avoid the prop-wash of the boat ahead. Watching the T850 boats in particular, the drivers were making constant adjustments to stay exactly where they wanted to be on the ever-changing surface of the water.

Kingsbury_20160703_50913The Kingsbury GP weekend was a good one, with strong performances in all classes. Thomas Mantripp won in the GT15’s, Bill Owen in the T850’s, Sam Whittle in the F4’s, and there was a hugely popular first National win for Tiegen Goodfellow in the GT30’s (who went on to receive the customary dunking…twice).

Kingsbury_20160703_51724.jpgNext we move on the Chasewater for the Cannock GP on the 16th/17th July. This piece of water has a long history of powerboat racing, and presents its own challenges for a photographer. The F2’s will be back, the drivers are hungry for more, and I can’t wait to get there.

Focus On… Matt Wood – Chequered Flag Racing (F4)

I caught up with Matt this morning to get his feelings on yesterday and ahead of today’s racing.

Matt didn’t feel he got the best out of his qualifying session, leaving his lower down the grid than he had hoped. Returning to the pits he made some changes to the boat which seemed to work and he managed to make up a place in the first heat. 

“Hopefully today we can do the same,”  he told me. “Yesterday I was keeping up with Been who was keeping up with Sam. If I can get ahead of Ben early on, I’m confident we can keep up with Sam.” 

Focus On… Harvey Smith – F1 Atlantic GB (GT15)

Things didn’t go Harvey’s way yesterday. Fighting with Jonathan Brewer coming out of turn one, Harvey squeezed Jonathan towards the island and was subsequently docked a lap, demoting him to last place and the back of the grid for today’s first heat. 

Being his home circuit, Harvey felt that his performance should have been better yesterday and he should have been fighting closer to Thomas Mantripp at the front of the field. 

With yesterdays events in mind, Harvey intends to approach today’s racing with a level head, but a clear desire to show what he feels is his potential. Seeing the silver lining in starting from the back of the grid Harvey knows that with only one boat next to him he will have more clear water running in to the first turn and is determined to make up for yesterdays poor result. 

Focus On… Matt Wood – Chequered Flag Racing (F4)

Over the last couple of days it has emerged that the F4 fleet will be increased in size here at the Kingsbury Grand Prix, with the appearance of Ben Jelf’s new Baba hull and the news that Colin is planning to run Ben’s Molgaard. I grabbed a word with Matt to find out his thoughts on the developments of the weekend.

Colin, a long established F2 racer, is a very accomplished catamaran driver and regularly challenges at the front of his class. Matt said he was intrigued by the thought of racing the father son duo, but was also looking forward to the experience of driving against Colin. 

Since I arrived at the venue this morning, boats have been being scrutineered and the drivers are currently in their briefing meeting. After this, it is time for any last minute adjustments before qualifying gets underway. 
If you’re in the area, why not pop down to Kingsbury Water Park to check out the action?

Focus On… Matt Wood – Chequered Flag Racing F4

The second of our “Focus On…” features for the upcoming Kingsbury GP will be looking at Matt Wood, the former T850 monohull driver who has made the switch this year to F4 catamarans. I spoke to Matt today to get his thoughts ahead of the weekend’s racing.

CarrMill_20160528_44867“I am feeling much more confident in this new style of boat after the T850 of the last two seasons, and I must say I am very much enjoying the challenge of cat racing.” Matt went on to tell me that thanks to help from his sponsors, Atwell Labellers, the team have been able to make some small changes to the boat and have plans for further alterations to try to find the extra speed to get higher up the rankings.

“With this being my first season racing catamarans it has been a learning curve and a crash course in how to feel the boat and get to grips with the different style of racing required. Fortunately I feel instantly at ease and excited when I jump in the cockpit and with two 3rd place finishes I am confident that things can only get better with more improvements.”

LowestoftGP_20160501_37750 2Matt has made some great starts this year, improving on his qualifying positions at both previous rounds, and has gone on to have some thrilling battles on the water both fighting to move towards Sam and Rob ahead and trying to keep Ben and Leon behind him.

“Every time I jump in the cockpit I always want to win, as i do in anything I do, but I also need to remember that I am still learning and to be safe, which the team help me massively with. I am looking forward to getting back on the water at Kingsbury as I have enjoyed racing there the past two seasons in the T850s, and I’m really looking forward to driving the cat around there. So, let’s see what the weekend brings, as I am sure improvements have been made all round.”

CarrMill_20160529_48527Matt sounds confident, and so far this year the F4 class has provided some really great racing, so why not come down to Kingsbury Water Park (B76 0DY) this weekend and see if the gains made can push him closer to that top step.

Focus On… Harvey Smith – F1 Atlantic GB (GT15)

Over the course of the Kingsbury GP weekend, one of our “Focus On…” features will be following young GT15 driver, Harvey Smith. Having switched to a Povvat hull for 2016, Harvey is enjoying a great year so far, having finished 2nd overall in both previous events. This puts him 3rd in the championship battle, only 5 points away from 2nd, with the leader just 1 point further ahead. This evening I spoke to Harvey’s dad, Martyn, to find out how the teams preparations for Kingsbury are going.

LowestoftGP_20160501_38057F1 Atlantic GB’s GT15 team have a busy time ahead of them. Currently getting ready for the Kingsbury GP, they are also beginning to gear up for the Cannock GP two weeks later, after which they will head to Estonia for the GT15 World Championships. Martyn told me that the team have been testing and evaluating a range of props and with the combination of the new hull, testing, and Harvey’s motivation to win, they have made considerable gains over their lap times last year.

The team are very down to earth. They appreciate that everything has to come together on the day, no matter how much prep you put in before the weekend. That said, Harvey I believe is ready to win. Personally I have noticed a difference in Harvey’s driving this year. He’s stepped up, and this weekend he will have a mentor in the form of F1 Atlantic GB team mate, F2 driver Matt Palfreymen, fresh from his 2nd place at Round 2 of the UIM F2 World Championships in Campione d’Italia. Will this be Harvey’s weekend?

LowestoftGP_20160501_38673Come along to the Kingsbury GP at Kingsbury Water Park, Bodymoor Heath, Warwickshire, B76 0DY and see for yourself whether Harvey can make his way to the top step of the podium.

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