Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) 2011 Round 2 – The International Rally Of Queensland

Hi everyone, My name is Marcel Stawiczny and am a photographer from Brisbane, Australia. Two weeks ago I attended the 2nd round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, held on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Its only a short 2 hour drive for me and have attended it for the last three years. I am here to share my images with also some insights into the photos that I took. That’s enough talking about me, let it begin.

Atsushi Masumura from Japan has to be one of the most smiliest characters in the APRC field that I have come across. This makes for great photos. This shot was taken during the shakedown on Friday and caught Atsushi chilling by the side of his car. Which I was quick to snap as I much prefer natural shots instead of posed.

Another example of  a natural pose of Karamjit Singh. I had done my research before the event to ensure I knew what the majority of the field looked like as it was my aim to get as many headshots/portraits of the drivers and co-drivers as possible.

This photo was taken during the media conference with the top drivers from the APRC and the ARC (Australian Rally Championship). It was quite a challenge to get some decent shots but this one of Chris Atkinson was the pick of the bunch.

I was immensely looking forward to the Friday Super Special, not because of the action on stage, but the action before when the light is absolutely divine for a short period of time. I rushed around to get as many shots as I could of all the people of interest. The top APRC drivers didn’t arrive till well after the sun set, but this one of the Chinese driver Fan Fan was one of my favorites. I’m unsure if Fan Fan noticed me as I was crouching behind some cars as I was after a natural shot of him and his mechanic simply walking around.

Akiko Nakagawa was one of the APRC co-drivers that I could not find and information on. When I googled her a Japanese voice actress came up and wasn’t sure if it was the one I was looking for. So as shakedown happened earlier in the day I used commonsense to make the connection that she was the co-driver of Atsushi Masumura, who can be seen in the foreground.

I particularly don’t like shooting at night, especially when ambient/flood lights are completly positioned wrong and detrimental to photos. It could also be my outdated and sometimes malfunctioning 550EX flash, but lets say its the former. This photo is one that you look at with humor once its on the computer screen as you can clearly see some wide eyed, teeth clenching from Alister McRae’s co-driver Bill Hayes.

On the completely opposite scale as the image before. Gaurav Gill is one cool customer. This photo was taken on the very first stage on Saturday. Mainly to ensure that I got all cars in a somewhat neat fashion and witout any omissions due to retirements. I bursted out 9 shots in this series of Gaurav Gill from launch to landing and his expression stayed completely calm and composed even when his landing was off, which did result in me getting showered with dust. My position with the 400mm was quite dangerous looking back as it was the spot where one of the ARC cars went off and rolled, so had things being different and stayed for more of the ARC guys (like last year) things might have been quite different right now.

Getting a nice water splash is one of luck in my opinion. Of course the photographer needs to know what he/she is doing and have the tools for the job. This photo was taken in RAW and shot manually, including white balance to ensure no crazy auto white balance variations. Shooting RAW allowed me to bring back the blown out water due to the backlighting. I came away with many great shots and some better than this one. But this has a few touches the others don’t. Firstly not as much water was kicked up by Subhan Aksa and it seemed to be kicked away from the car and not swamp all around it. Also another touch is the slight reflection on the windshield which creates a sort of glow to the image.

I chose this shot of Brian Green instead of others as its the one that says more. Whilst Brian Green is not at the top of the field and in turn does not push like the guys at the top, no disrespect intended, it exactly the reason I chose this photo compared to others as its quite obvious he is giving it some and getting a decent amount of dust and kicking his rear wheel off the ground.

Rifat Sungkar is another driver that is truly a happy character. He is also a fun driver to watch as he is usually the one that gets the most sideways due to his drifting experience and general show I assume he like to put on. This particular location is a one shot spot. As you literally only have one shot to get it right, which makes is difficult as you really don’t know what the driver is going to do to get around the corner. When you come back with many great shots of the field its quite a satisfying feeling.

My experience with getting photos of Jean-Louis Leyraud are one of contrast. It appears to be quite hard to get nice shots of him but I always come back with surprisingly great shots. This year I got numerous photos of him, but this one is one that explains it all. Even though he is in the car, focused, service done, window up and ready to head off I still managed to get a nice shot. Which means no matter the situation or lack of time you can still get those shots that you might not think will work.

This photo is the most heavily photo-shopped image of mine from the event. The camera is able to capture the image but when it is viewed on the LCD it is quite dull, flat and boring. But as a photographer you have to think about what you can do with an image afterwards. As I shoot RAW nothing is lost and it allows me to bring out the contrast, colours and detail that are hidden in the image when it is first seen on the LCD. It might be a distorted view, but its a pleasantly distorted view to me.

This is an example of my two most favorite aspects in photography, beautiful light and a natural pose. I was hanging around service park getting photos of who I believed to be Daniel Palau as I had make the assumption it was him. This photo proved to me that Daniel Palau was in fact the one I had assumed. He is on the left and Thierry Song on the right. Why and how did you come to that conclusion you may ask. Only a navigator would be working hard on notes whilst the driver is chilling. ;)

Only a few teams were using high pressure water guns to clean their cars, and I knew the sort of shot I wanted to get. It had been in my mind since the days of F1 Racing magazine and the featured shots you see in the ‘Parade’ section at the start of the magazine with photos of mechanics washing tyres, wheels and the cars. A simple everyday action which results in a great photograph. I noticed this mechanic going around the car of Hao Yuan with the water gun and set my sights on the side window decal and simply waited for that split second for the gun to spray the dirt away.

I was hanging around service park with the 1d Mark III and the 28mm f1.8. Its a nice lens although not as sharp as my 50mm f1.4. Even thought this photo of Akira Bamba and his mechanic might appear nicely lit, the light was beginning to drop off quickly. The 28mm allowed me to get this shot with respectable settings wide open. I don’t like shooting high ISO as the 1d MarkIII is not great at handling it. Even though I was quite close to Akira Bamba he didn’t change his stance or give an unnatural pose.

Its not only the drivers and co-drivers that one should take photos of, its also the mechanics. As no drivers had turned up it was a bit more relaxed in the service park and I was looking for any sort of atmosphere going on and potential photos. I had taken a similar photo of Wayne Moore last year working on the tyres and this year on early Sunday morning i did the same, it might even turn into a yearly ritual.

There is really only one chance to get portraits of the drivers and co-drivers all together in one place. And thats the re-qroup. Its almost an overload of opportunities and for a photographer like me its exciting to see photos unfold before you. Stephane Prevot got out of the car, lit up a cigarette and took some time out after the long drive from Caloundra.

As Chris Atkinson suffered troubles during the Rally so this photo was one of few, it was also during re-group on Sunday morning. For me Chris is quite elusive to get as he is a local celebrity and I assume he is one that is photographed the most because he is well known in Australia because of his WRC days. But thats my opinion.

I don’t know the exact reason why Alister McRae ended up pushing his car out of re-group and into service but its one of those moments where you know you got an interesting photo, but its also one where you want to drop the camera and give a hand in pushing the car.

From what I believe this was after Nathan Quinn retired from the Rally. It was quite disappointing as he was leading the rally at some points and had a great chance at taking out a solid result. But as the Queensland is one of the most demanding rallies on the calendar it does take casualties.

When I first turned up to this location I was worried that the back light and trees would result in a wasted opportunity. But I was quite wrong as the sun was coming through the gap in the trees and was reflecting back up from the dirt and lighting up the front of the car. Its once again another photo of Gaurav Gill and the best one from this spot as he is simply the best at attacking the entry of the corner resulting in a very nice dust cloud. One of my favorites from the event.

And once again its the Gaurav Gill show. By far the most sideways driver whilst I was there. Its moments like these when your on the inside of the corner and the wind is in your favor showering officials, photographers and spectators on the outside that you know you chose the right spot to take photos, all without a single spot of dust on your camera.

The typical spraying of champagne is always a great opportunity for photos. I was limited by my one body so I decided to get a tight shot rather than a wide shot. If it was totally up to me I would have used my 400mm to get photos of Ieuan Thomas and Mark Higgins getting drenched with champagne, like I did a few years ago with Simon Evans. But as I had editorial commitments I was unable to get that sort of photo.

The aftermath of the champagne drenching and one can imagine how much it stings, hence Mark’s tightly shut eyes. But one would not trade it as its the spoils of victory.

Ieuan Thomas, Fan Fan (The Team Boss) and Mark Higgins pose for the cameras showcasing all their trophies.

The Soueast Team shot in the beautiful afternoon light. The podium positioning in Imbil is better than what is has been in previous years, but if they had only moved the media stand further back it would not result in horrible shadows like seen here. Hopefully they fix this in the future.


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Through the Lens - Asia Pacific Rally Championship 2010 (APRC) Day 1 : Part 2
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APRC Round 1 - Day 2 Afternoon Session And Wrap Up
Asia Pacific Rally Championship 2011 - Big Names Confirmed to Compete in the Opening Round in Malaysia
Wallpapers - Alister McRae on the Move
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2 Responses to “Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) 2011 Round 2 – The International Rally Of Queensland”
  1. Han says:

    Great coverage! And love the shots, could really feel the mood. Especially McRae’s car-pushing, really understood the meaning of dropping whatever you are doing and giving a hand. Good job!

  2. Luca says:

    Great photoblog on the APRC man

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