European Le Mans Series, Estoril

1 November 2016

Time to get to grips with a new circuit to me, Estoril - a twisting tight track on the coast of Portugal

It’s been awhile since I last wrote on here but I thought I’d share some images from the final round of the European Le Mans Series at Estoril. Estoril was a new circuit for me to explore in a country that I rarely get to visit – other than my visit to the Rally de Portugal last year this is only my second visit to Portugal.

The track itself is surprisingly challenging, a fairly compact layout that reminded me a bit of a Snetterton on steroids meant getting around was really easy with plenty of options for different angles. With plenty of track time for the series I was keen to get to grips with this twisting circuit before the race.

The track seemed to challenge a lot of the drivers, the chicane in particular seemed a real difficulty for a lot of the LMP3 drivers. Scrabbling to try and find the correct gear midway through the corner didn’t make for the most elegant of exits. It’s difficult to show in images quite how steep this chicane is – it comes in low (although still heading up hill) before switching to the left in a steep incline before switching back to the right. This sequence of tight 90 degree uphill corners caught more than a few drivers out.

Other than the chicane this track seemed to be incredibly fast, long sweeping corners meant that the LMP2 cars were properly shifting, easily in excess of 120MPH. Seeing the cars twitch and squirm in the damp conditions as they flung themselves into the corners was a marvel to watch. This was easily the most on edge I’ve seen P2 cars for quite some time.

I only have one real complaint about the circuit, and it’s not really the circuits fault…we as photographers have one element we constantly have to work with – light. When there isn’t any it can become quite frustrating. This was unfortunately the case at Estoril as the sun only briefly appearing during the Saturday morning session bursting through the cloud at sunrise. Other than that we were shrouded in thick cloud for the majority of the weekend. Now, you might be might saying “Well at least it wasn’t raining”, but actually that’s exactly what I wanted it to do!

I’d much rather shoot in the pouring rain than in overcast, flat, lighting conditions. You get rooster tails and spray. It can totally transform the way you photograph a circuit.

The overcast spell decided to end…a few minutes after the final flag dropped making way for a huge downpour during the podium celebrations. That was an interesting experience!

I hope you enjoy these images from the final round of the European Le Mans Series at Estoril.