Showing posts with label MotoGP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MotoGP. Show all posts

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Andrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto and MotoGP. Part4 Catching Up.

5037 "likes" as of March 10, 2012
It's been a few weeks since we passed this little milestone of 5000 "Likers". As I'm catching up with everything MotoGP related before the season kicks off in a few weeks and especially how it relates to what I do as a photographer, I wanted to also add a huge THANK YOU to all who like and interact on my Facebook page at Andrew Wheeler - AutoMotoPhoto .  It's always a pleasure to be able to interact with like minded people, and even more of a pleasure to meet people out "on the road" when at a race track. 

I hope to meet more people who are part of this movement and who help make the friendships that exist with @automotophoto on TwitterAndrew Wheeler - AutoMotoPhoto and now on Instagram a tangible reality starting with RD1 at Qatar and then onto Jerez and Estoril,  and on through the rest of 2012.

Emily and VR46 OFC t-shirt. You go girl!
As I'm having a "personal update" I'd also like to share some good-ish news with regards to my wife Emily  who is dealing with Stage4 colon cancer.  After a rather unexpected brief sojourn into hospital for a little side effect that got a little out of hand, in part due to the fact that the chemotherapy drugs were actually doing their work and attacking/inflaming the tumor in her colon and creating the issue, following the tests they undertook during her short stay it transpired that in the words of her oncologist, that it looks like "we're hopefully turning a corner".  Now if you know anything about Doctors who work in this world you'll know they're not the purveyors of false hope.  The goal being to have the tumor reduces significantly to have it removed sometime later this year and apparently we're on track.  This is by no means easy on Emily and at times I feel terribly helpless because she has been in an awful lot of pain especially during the "side effect" weekend.  But, as of today it does appear that things are normalising again.  With that I'd like to extend a huge THANK YOU to all who have sent us emails, messages through FB or simply posted words of encouragement and support.  It means so much to us. Thank you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Casey Stoner - World Champion

Casey Stoner atop his motorcycle in parc ferme after winning the race, and the World Championship
A quick update from last weekends MotoGP Round 16 at Phillip Island in Australia..and a simple update at that...with nothing more to say...Casey Stoner really put his stamp on the season and pulled off the race win, the championship and it was his birthday to boot...not bad going I guess.

The trip to Phillip Island was, as it always is, a lot of fun.  I know some wonderful people who visit the island over the race weekend that it almost feel like a family gathering.  So thank you to all who made my visit most enjoyable. Also a big thank you again to those who attended my first seminar and to Paul Stafford of Spice Island for being able to host it.

Images from Phillip Island and previous rounds are online in my AutoMotoPhoto MotoGP Photography searchable archive.

Next up, images and tales from Malaysia....where I am penning this update.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Just for fun! A quick post to request nominations for the Shorty Awards!

It's a little bit of fun, but also twinged with a bit of seriousness. My goal since I started this journey was to get more people to see, or see through my eyes, this beautiful sport of motorcycle racing, especially here in the USA. My home for the past 20+ years.
Nominate @automotophoto in the Shorty Awards!
Just click on the image over there >

So it doesn't take long, but so far I/we are up to third spot in the #art let's see if we can get a little higher. Thank you for reading. Oh, and Wrooom with Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, Fernando Alonso and Massa will be happening in Italy on Monday.

Wish I was there too..! Thank you! Now please vote!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Goodbye and thank you RoadRacerX...

I had seven cover images with RoadRacerX magazine during the last five years.
Normally the end of the year is filled with anticipation. Yes, things change and a new year ushers in a feeling of rebirth. On Friday, New Years Eve a magazine with which I have worked with since I started shooting motorcycle racing closed it's doors. My photographs appeared many times in this magazine (and online)so much so that I am grateful that through RoadRacerX I was able to secure additional work and visibility I possibly wouldn't have attained anywhere else. Working alongside Chris Jonnum and Laurel Allen ("CJ and "LCA" respectively) I covered many of the world major racing series as a "retained" freelancer.
This image of Eric Bostrom was one of my favourites and was the first image used in what would become an annual tradition from thereon out. RoadRacerX's Pictures Of The Year feature which would highlight photos from such greats as Andrew Northcott and Mirco Lazzari to name a few...I would go on to have numerous opening spreads featured in this magazine along with many many others, along with assignments and opportunities as a result. I wrote two features for the magazine. One of Ben Spies when he burst onto the world stage in the World Superbike series in 2009 where I interviewed him at Phillip Island in Australia. Earlier this year, 2010, I would again visit Phillip Island where I would interview Roger Hayden (brother of Nicky Hayden) and Jason DiSalvo on their championship attempts at World Superbike. Again I would supply the text and the images for the feature. Yes I can write too!!
My proudest moment though came with the my first ever cover on a magazine in the USA, my adopted home. It was a picture of fellow countryman Neil Hodgson, aboard the Parts Unlimited Ducati Superbike. I still get a chill when I look at the cover, knowing how I felt at the time. With that I will simply say. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of one of the best road racing magazines on the planet. With some fo the best people working inside it's covers. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Time Travel, Lorenzo wins MotoGP, Rossi moves to Ducati. I launch a calender...

Facebook and Twitter have become my realtime place for updates, and so I am simply going to announce my Calendar, and that my 2010 AutoMotoPhoto Review is almost complete. I will review my year in MotoGP next week during the Christmas period and I'll also put together a slideshow of images I have a partial liking to for you viewing please...

In the meantime, if you wish to order a calendar, and it can be a single rider specific calender, please feel free to request as such when you purchase. Once you go through the checkout procedure there is an area whereby you can send comments to the seller (that's me). If you need a country specific calendar with your public holidays, please also specify, otherwise it will arrive without any dates aside fromt he dates of the month!

To order the calendar simply click on this link and you'll be whisked away to a new page...

My website, AutoMotoPhoto is now update with all races covered through 2010.

That's all for now...more to come in the next week with published examples, pdf's you name it!.

I'd also like to thank everyone who took the time to look at my work, comment on my work, but more importantly, make an effort to come and say HI to me at races weekends. You'll never know how much that means to me. Also a big thank you to the publishers around the globe who chose to use my work.  Thank you.  IT really helps my bottom line as well!

So feel free to follow me on Twitter or become a fan and interact with like minded people, and yours truly here on my Facebook Fan page.

Have a great Christmas everyone.  Hug someone you love and smile at everyone you see.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ben Spies, Rossi, Lorenzo, Hayden. AutoMotoPhoto 2009 Review is available

Short and swift blog update..

My 2009 Review has been available for a whiles, but with one thing and another it took a whiles to set up the store..but here it is..

For more information on ordering go to AutoMotoPhoto 2009 Racing Review website
More from Le Mans next week!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jorge Lorenzo loves Jerez (and Sherry too...)

Tio Pepe..or Uncle Joe (or Jose), but not Jorge..! Interestingly this is/was my third visit to Jerez inside twelve months. The same time last year was for my first visit to region for MotoGP, the second visit in October 2009 was with my wife Emily as a holiday, and now, here I am again in the same wonderful town for MotoGP once again. I love coming to Jerez. Truly feels like home.Fortunately, just prior to my leaving, the "volcano that cannot be pronounced" appeared to have known about my visit and started behaving itself towards the end of the week that I had planned to leave for Spain. Air France had started returning to its normal transatlantic flight schedules and I could stop panicking about whether I would get there or not. I arrive into Malaga Monday afternoon via Charles De Gaulle, pick up the rental car (A BMW series 3 diesel - again) and head towards Jerez along the coast. The sun is out, it's warm and with the windows down I take a nice easy drive along the main toll road that runs from Malaga, through Marbella, past the rock of Gibraltar and turns inland where one finally ends up in the city of Jerez. It's a nice drive. The toll roads are hardly used and the view along the way is spectacular.Arriving into Jerez I park just outside my accommodations, and after a brief chat with Alice and Jim, the apartment owners, I am in. I decide that I need to run to Carrefour to purchase some supplies for that evenings dinner, plus some beer, wine and water and I just make it in time before the store closes at 10pm! And they really do close. With supermarkets here in the USA they'll announce over the PA that the store is closing in 5 minutes and that's fine, but here, they turn all the lights off!! They obviously have no idea how hard it is to buy Leffe Brun, or at least differentiate between the Blonde and the Brun simply by using the incandescent glow of a Sony Erricson W600i mobie phone. It's all good. I pay, and I head back to the house. A shower, a quick dinner creation and it's time for bed. I sleep like a log.Tuesday rolls around, and I really do not get out of bed until noon! OOPS! I decide that perhaps it's time for a change and instead of taking the car out for a drive, I decide to go for another walk around Jerez. It's a pretty little town, with narrow streets, pretty flat with no major hills so to speak. I decide that maybe I should go to a different "Sherry House" for a tour vs going to Tio Pepe as I do each time I visit. I arrive at the Sandeman bodegas and along with 4 other people we're giving a tour around the front end of the business. In fact, it's only a 30 minutes tour, and although it's well presented it just doesn't come upto the quality tour that is the one given at Tio Pepe. After this tour, in which felt a little rushed, I decide to kill some time, go for a walk and go back to the Tio Pepe bodegas for the 18.30 tour later that day.In the meantime I have a couple of hours to kill. I decide to visit the Alcazar of Jerez. Emily weren't able to visit this building last year, and it's just across from the Tio Pepe bodegas so it makes for a good side trip fitting in nicely with the schedule. Due to the time of year, again, I have this place to myself so I just walk around, then sit on a bench and soak up the lovely warm sunshine whilst enjoying the perfume being given off by the flowers in the garden. Perfect. The Alcazar closes at 5.30, so I leave head over to Tio Pepe, purchase my ticket and sit in their orange groves waiting for the tour to begin. The tour starts and by 7.45pm we're done, so a few purchases in the souvenir shop and I'm heading back to the apartment. Shower, dinner, a chat with Emily over webcam, then it's off to bed. We'll head off to Seville and their Alcazar on Wednesday.I love sleeping without the use of an alarm clock. I wake at 9am. Make coffee, have some chocolate all bran, shower change and am out the door by 11am. The drive to Seville is quite pleasant. About an hour. Arriving into the city through a 6 lane wide boulevard, I have forgotten the street peddlers from last year who like to try and sell you packets of tissues. It's odd. I have never thought about little packets of tissues being something that someone would want whilst sat at a traffic light. Maybe the Spanish buy more of these little packets of tissues than anywhere else. I suppose it's less of an intrusion that someone washing your windshield and then trying to demand you pay the for the work you never wanted in the first place. Everyone has to try and make a living some how so I can't truly knock it. I suppose it isn't much of a stretch to be someone trying to sell photos huh?I park in the same place Emily and I parked last year. Oddly enough in parking space #46! I then head up to ground level and make my way to the Alcazar. It's off season, the weather is perfect, the crowds are manageable and I enter the Alcazar. This place is a must see. It's simply so nice to walk around, sit in the shade, listen to birds and watch people doing the same. It's a world away from what I do normally, the noise, the crowds, so for me, these outings to locations such as these are a way to recharge and just be a visitor. The Alcazar is for want of a better description, a castle. It's a walled palace, with gardens, baths, shaded walkways with palm trees, fruit trees, gardens and waterfalls. Exquisite. I leave a couple of hours later and stop for some tapas, after all, this is where tapas started! I go for tuna with tomatoes on toast, and a nice big glass of cold beer and kill an an hour or so watching people eating ice cream watch me eating tuna. Time to head back to Jerez.Thursday the real world of motorcycle racing, or my "job" kicks back into gear so it's off to the track I go. Arriving early afternoon, Thursdays have become a bit of a "White Elephant" in terms of doing any work. With engines being "blipped" in the garages below as the teams prepare the bikes for the weekends action, the only thing that really happens on a Thursday is the press conference at 5pm and that's it.Friday mornings are a little busier than Thursdays, but with no on track action until Friday afternoon, everything is very low key. Even the number of fans attending on a Friday is less, possibly because they're not willing to spend money for half a days activities, and the accompanying costs of hotels etc. Why not arrive Friday evening for the weekend and save a days expenses?Oh that's right!! I'm here to photograph the racing! I am going down with the flu as this seems to be the time of year I catch something and it tries to incapacitate me. Andrew Northcott has agreed to help run me around on his scooter (too kind and I am immensely grateful) and so at least I can pace myself over the weekend and not make myself any more sick than I need to. Sitting in the media centre with David Emmett from Motomatters, Julian Ryder and Toby Moody from Eurosport along MotoGP technoboffin Neil Spalding, the off track entertainment is already taken care of.The weekends events follow their well scripted chronological paths, with Friday afternoons practices, Saturday mornings practices followed by Saturday afternoons qualifying. The weather is again, perfect. The crowds on Saturday fill the hillsides and add the signature colour that would be repeated ten fold on Sunday.Sunday. Race day arrives. It is a huge event, with air horns, whistles and a new feature, someone has brought in a ships foghorn that when "tooted" simply obliterates any other noise coming from the crowds. With huge crowds lining the hills, and with men trying to get their pictures taken with scantily clad umbrella girls, the smell of food being cooked mixed in with cigarette smoke, race day get's underway. The 125's and the new series Moto2 have their fair share of excitement and fairing to fairing battles, and initially MotoGP looks like it's going to be just another procession to the end. But no. Sadly Ben Spies drops out, and the field spaces out as usual with Spaniard Dani Pedrosa taking off on his own race in the distance. But that wouldn't last for long. We witness Jorge Lorenzo starting to run everyone down, catch and pass them. He passes Nicky Hayden, then passes Valentino Rossi and now he's closing in on Dani Pedrosa. In the meantime I am being whisked around the track at amazing speeds by Andrew Northcott from one shooting location to another and we simply witness Jorge Lorenzo catch and then pass his fellow countryman. Only to go on to win the race.It was a Spanish hat trick, both the 125cc class and Moto2 class were won by Spaniards. Now the MotoGP class has been won by Jorge Lorenzo. Another Spaniard! The crowds are going bezerk! I am in the stadium section on the outside of the track and the noise is deafening as Jorge Lorenzo dismounts, plants his now customary "Lorenzo's Land" flag and walks to the tyre wall, whereupon he jumps up and salutes the crowd. After a few moments he returns to his bike, hops off in another location and jumps into a small lake..which we do not see from where we are located. We head back to shoot the podium and wrap up the days visual events. In a few hours after editing images, and uploading them to our various outlets, we head back to the apartment. After packing and getting ready to leave the next day we head off to bed.Monday, it's a swift drive to Malaga via Ronda. Tuesday, it's time to head home. Next race is Le Mans. We'll see what a swift visit to France brings!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One last thing. Valentino Rossi and one from me!

I never cease to be amazed...Valentino Rossi Andrew Wheeler Automotophoto Qatar MotoGP winnerI have had many images used by Yamaha over the last 7 years I have been working in the motorcycle racing world, however, this is the first time an image of Valentino Rossi shot by yours truly has been used...Actually I'm thrilled. More to come in 2010.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Rossi, Spies, Stoner, Lorenzo, Edwards, and Hayden. Arabian Knights part one, arrival.

This is my first trip to Qatar. It won't be my last.It's an odd thing how historically societal feelings can affect one's thoughts of going to a "strange land." I'll be honest I was a little nervous about coming here as all the google satellite maps made it look all dusty and even more mysterious. Then I started reading about the people and the history of Qatar. Having never been to the East this was my first trip to Qatar or anywhere on the Arabian Peninsula. The flight via Emirates was one of the most amazing flights, even in economy, I had ever been on. Don't get me started about how good the food was either.Arriving here late Monday night, another emotional twig being thrown into my mind's spoked wheel, I zipped through immigration where I paid my 100 Rials an received my visitor's visa stamp in my passport. Into baggage claim where someone had neatly paired my two suitcases ready to pick up and go. Through the alcohol detector (odd having ones bags x-rayed upon leaving the terminal...) and off to the Hertz counter. Signed all the forms, and then someone pushed my bag cart to the rental car, helped me load it and then walked me out through the gates. With my GPS all ready to go I found my accommodation in the centre of Doha. Being a little bit bothered that it might smell of smoke, I even brought my own Fabreez! What a twit. The apartment is huge. Two bedrooms, marble floors and 12' ceilings. Super comfortable and clean. (As an aside note to other photographers who have come here and said it's boring, can't wait to get out of here etc etc..hint: stop staying in hotels). The hotel security gurad even help me carry my luggage upstairs. Finally got to bed at 3pm. Next day, we'd go exploring and find a fort.I guess not too many people venture out of the city. It's a two hour drive north of Doha, out in the middle of nowhere and it's called Al-Zubarah. Restored back in 1835 on the remains of the original fort it sits out in the scrubland/desert and is "guarded" by a nice little old guy who lives next door. One Rial and you get the whole place to yourself. In fact, it is simply rather nice being there with the only other sound being the woot of pigeons. About an hour spent there, a brief picnic and it was back to Doha to do some food shopping in Carrefour. For Wednesday I had planned to go local. To keep it simple as later on Wednesday night another photographer would be joining me as my partner in crime at Andrew's Arabian Palace, joining me for the weekend's fun and games at "the races". So the plan was to head of to the Waqif souk, a reminder of Doha's heritage as a trading post and a sort of antique mall, no, not a mall that sells antiques just a place where one can eat, smoke sheesh and have a browse looking at gold and other objects. I had also planned to head to the Islamic Museum. This was not to be. My laptop power brick decided to end it's own life so with less than three hours of battery life. I had to go shopping. After five hours of discovering the back roads of Doha, and meeting even more kind helpful people, I found a store that sells Apple products. Oddly enough on the third floor for of the same huge mall that contained Carrefour. It was now getting dark. Time to get back on the plan and try to restart my day's plan of visiting "The Souk"..The first thing that hits you? The smell. It envelopes you. Coddles you. Wraps it's arms around you and makes you feel like you're being hugged. It's aromatic, erotic and sublime. Sandalwood, cumin, allspice and cinnamon waft around in the warm, slightly humid evening air.This isn't justa tourist spot. This is an actual working market, products such as 20lb bags of basmati and other rices stacked 10 bags high wait for their buyers. Fruit, pulses and other goods are being haggled over, "ten for that you must be mad" runs though my mind! Aware that it was getting later and not having Emily here to share this wonderful experience with, I decide it's time to take some pictures of the Doha skyline at night. After getting back onto the Corniche, the coast road and promenade around the inlet around which Doha is built. Doha had a huge pearl industry until oil was found, and the pearl business died out. Where the Corniche starts and near to the Islamic Museum is a massive Mother of Pearl monument, that pays homage to Doha's past. With that being the last shot of the evening, I switch on "Gladys", plot a route for home and join the crazy, but fun, evening traffic back to base.Did I mentioned I'm here because Ben Spies, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden and those other madmen on their two wheeled machines that will be racing on Sunday at some stupid hour of the day? Oh no I didn't! More to come.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What are Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden doing? Interview with Andrew Wheeler (that's me)

What to do...

It's the off season. Nicky Hayden and Casey Stoner are running around in the snow with the new Ducati GP10 as part of Ducati's annual winter romp which can be followed here on RoadRacerX's website . I've just ordered a couple of 1TB hard drives for the "big machine" at home and am currently planning my 2010 as I will be covering just MotoGP. With Moto2 as the new class, MotoGP looks like it's going to be exciting.

I know I posted this waaaay back in July, but seeing as some new people have discovered my work, I thought i may be appropriate to re-visit this wonderful video that those kind folks at OTT - On The Throttle put together.
It can be run full screen by clicking on the little "icon" to the left of the volume adjustment on the status bar. Okay, I'm off to find something else to write about. Meanwhile, why not become a fan and join others on my Facebook Fan page.

Oh, and it's been a whiles since I shared a photo of our German Shepherd, ThorAndrew Wheeler Thor

Friday, January 01, 2010

Photos Of The Year. RoadRacerX and Haga. Spies, Lorenzo, Stoner

A few published favourites from this year. By no means everything of course.

For the second time in the five years RoadRacerX magazine has been running this annual feature, one of my images from 2009 has been used as their opening spread for their Photos Of The Year. It is a shot of Ducati rider Noriyuki Haga at the Curva Parabolica, Monza 2009.HagaClosely followed by a cover shot of World Superbike Champion Ben Spies taken at the final round at Portimao and used on the cover of 2010 Parts Unlimited Magazine.Ben SpiesOne of my favourite shots from the 2009 season of MotoGP was used as an opening spread in CycleWorld's December edition of Race Watch. It is of Jorge Lorenzo at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had a custom made Captain America helmet, but, the reason why I like this shot is the fact that the clouds are reflected inside the "A".Jorge LorenzoAs I have been working with a European agency this year, quite unbeknownst to me one of my images of Ducati rider Casey Stoner, that was taken at Laguna Seca earlier this year, adorned the cover of the programme for the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana!Casey StonerWe're almost up to date!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

From Pizza to Poulet, Imola to Magny Cours, Ben Spies and Nitro Nori!

Sit tight, grab a coffee, put some kindling on the fire, or grab your kindle and read on....

I will be updating in "chunks" during the next day or so, beginning with Imola and Magny Cours, then Phillip Island in Australia, then Portimao which will include the road trip my wife Emily and I had en route to the final round of MotoGp in Valencia. Then we'll have some current updates.

The last time I put words to this blog, I was staying in a small gite, in a small beautiful town called Brisighella, a picture of which can be viewed down page. This was to attend the World Superbike race at the famous race track at Imola. I had never been to Imola, much the same as I had never been to Monza. In fact, it's the one thing in common I had with Ben Spies! Many of the tracks he would be racing at, he hadn't seen either. Let's just say that's where the similarities ended. Italy is a wonderful place, and this part of Italy is beautiful. Still rather rustic, but full of history, architecture and kind people. The gite I had rented was a converted barn. The entire property was a vineyard, not huge, but they make and sell their own wines and we had just arrived at harvest time. So the roads that we would travel on would always have at least one tractor with a trailer full of grapes. Occasionally, you'd round a corner and see a rather futuristic tall, spaceship looking tractor designed to remove grapes from their vines. At night you'd hear these tractors, with their "night into day" lights following a strict path up and down the well placed vines removing the grapes.Needless to say, the air is full of a pungent fruity mustiness as they're taken from the vines, and crushed at many of the small independent wine producers in the valley. The entire region is noted for it's wine, and it's wild boar. In fact, at the place we were staying, the woman who ran the facility, and who owned the vineyard and who also runs a cooking school, would tell me that if I went for a walk in the evening to watch out for wild boar... Ok, I will. In the mornings you would sometimes wake to the crack of gunfire and hunters would be up at dawn looking for game, and no doubt, the odd wild boar...! Imola holds a very special place in many racing fans' hearts. As with many famous racetracks it also has a rather sad side to it's history, being a race track where many fine racers have lost their lives. One of the most well known, and still loved to this day, is Ayrton Senna. On the Thursday afternoon, Graeme, another photographer by the name of Gareth Harford and myself walked the track, a useful exercise just to get some idea of the layout, angles and so forth. When we came upon Tamburello we went behind the catch fencing, where, to this day, Senna fans place flowers, and memorials to the famed Formula 1 (cars) driver. On a quiet Thursday afternoon with the only sound being some birds and the faint toot of cars horns from the city that surrounds the race track it made for a moment of reflection, and a reminder that sometimes there is a price to pay for speed, competition, and the ultimately, life does go with everything Thursday ends and the race weekend gears itself up. In Italy, this means chaos. Organised chaos! Italian race fans are really, very enthusiastic. Climbing fences, firecrackers, disco Eurotrance music blaring from huge mobile panini vans. All serving food and coffee as good as anything you can buy in a decent Italian restaurant in the US. The Italians love food, and good food. Umm, so do I so it's a dangerous combination! The racing? Oh yes! Well, as expected this is a Ducati track, meaning, they really always perform well here and this weekend wasn't any different, however, MotoGP 250 superstar Marco Simoncelliput in an appearance for the Aprillia Superbike team and finished third in race two! To the delight of the many fans that turned out to watch the Italian. With Ducati riders, Haga and Fabrizio winning race 1 and race 2 respectively, the weekend wasn't helpful for title contender Ben Spies.But that's racing I guess!! A quick hop skip, quick plane trip and we're off Paris, then a swift drive to Burgundy and Magny Cours!I have a soft spot for France. I spent many years motorcycling here (or there), I would go on school trips all through junior school, the food, language, countryside, everything about the country I love. Even my wife Emily and I were engaged in Paris 23 years ago! This time I'm staying in a converted 16th Century converted building next to the church in the centre of a very old town by the name of La Charite-sur-Loire. The apartment itself backs up to the 12th century Clunic priory church of Notre Dame. Notably, the winding narrow medieval stone staircase inside the apartment will always stick in my mind because it felt like you were walking up a tower (which you were) to fire arrows upon the invading (insert favourite invading medieval army here). The town itself is one of a few towns in France that is known as the "City of Books", and as you'd expect, there's a lot of booksellers, with new, used and antique books, most in French, all for sale! Back to the track at Magny Cours, which is out in the middle of nowhere and so it is a nice pleasant and relaxing 20+ minute drive. However, I would only find out after I returned home that my rather enthusiastic driving style would be rewarded with four driving violations, in other words, speeding tickets from some sneaky hidden speeding camera somewhere en route between the apartment and the track. No flashes to alert you, nothing. Perhaps the cows were disguised as speed cameras, who knows..but there you go. The price of racing I suppose! This weekend would fare a little better for Ben's championship attempt as he would go onto win race 1.However, Noriyuki Haga would maintain his side of the championship tussle by winning race 2.This track is huge! A scooter (Thanks Maio! [Merrigalli]) is essential. There's plenty of opportunities to capture something a little bit different, with brightly coloured kerbs, huge swathes of green paint and the light is actually quite good there (or here)...One thing that struck me, especially as I spent a lot of time working in and out of the Yamaha garage was watching the extremely high level of team work, combined with a good sense of humour to get the work done. With Tom Houseworth who has been with Ben for years, and Gregg 'Woody" Wood, who came on board the Spies championship efforts a few races previously the team developed and second sense for making sure all their work played out.With the championship now set to come down to the final race in Portimao, Portugal, the weekend is over. Next, we head home to California for a few days, then it's off to Australia and Phillip Island for MotoGP.