I crouched precariously behind the barrier, trying not to get in the spectators way whilst allowing myself enough room to move to get the shots. With the ever-changing lighting in the arena, I would have no hope of changing settings quick enough to capture the action, so I slipped the camera into ‘auto’ whilst I concentrated on self preservation. It’s no exaggeration that being this close to cars flying past at 60-70mph+, if anything goes wrong and it leaps a barrier, you’re very dead! Though, surprisingly, that wasn’t my biggest fear, what scared me the most was the much higher probability of a piece of metal, wheel or wing coming off one of the cars and finding a direct route to my head (or my camera, us photographers are very protective about these things!).
The biggest problem you face as a photographer covering any event is that you must get the shot, at all costs! Calling the editor and saying ‘I’m a little bit scared’ is not an option! Even though there was a strong possibility of a trouser accident, I set about leaning over the wall to get some shots and was greeted with a large face-full of flying tyre debris and a potent mix of tyre smoke & exhaust fumes. I can’t lie though, it is exciting, but you do start to realise how vulnerable you are when an out of control Petter Solberg starts throwing his WRC car at the barriers in a bid to impress the crowds. After knackering the clutch and stalling a few times, the crazy Norwegian went all out to impress the fans and clattered the barrier opposite me and then headed straight at me! ‘Where are the pictures?’ I hear you ask, by this point I’d already taken cover, a world rally car in the face would make a great picture but my hair didn’t look great this day so I thought I’d give it a miss and hid!