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From Four To Two

24th November 2017 — by Dan Fegent

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I like to think that I am someone who likes to welcome a new challenge. In my job as a photographer I enjoy taking on new things & capturing different events. However I’d be lying if I told you that my nerves don’t get the better of me sometimes when I’m asked to do something outside of my comfort zone. That familiar anxiety I’m sure we have all felt at some point starts to build & just needs kept in check, remain calm I tell myself, it’ll all work out.

At the start of this year I was asked to shoot several rounds of BSB, I ran off to the Googles & quickly realised that BSB is the British Super Bike Championship… ok I wasn’t that naive to it but I did need to start researching & fast!

If you know of my work for Fueltopia & for Monster Energy then you’ll know I’m someone who mostly covers four wheel motorsport events. That has changed in recent times & I’ve come to adapt to the various challenges & enjoy it. Variety is the spice of life right? Seriously though I believe the subject matter I’m most associated with doesn’t define me, I simply love all things I get to do.

Now that aside I still was nervous about BSB, I am not someone who owns or has ever ridden a proper motorbike on or off road. I have roughly 20 minutes to my name on a moped, which I promptly fell off so as for experience… you could say I am lacking it.

This was all new to me. I spent the lead up to round one asking friends about what it meant to them to ride a bike. Yeah, with questions like I did get some strange looks but I was trying to understand the passion behind it all. The reason people go and watch these races. I did an intensive course several evenings on the BSB website, learning about the teams, the riders names, their numbers & bike liveries. Anything that could help me once I arrived at the circuit with a job to do.

From a photographers point of view though I try not to look at other peoples photos when I shoot something new, not in anyway due to arrogance but more due to the fact that it may scare me in to thinking that I can’t do it, that I can’t capture what they have done. Its once again that familiar anxiety that builds inside me which is not what I need when I’m taking on a new challenge so I just avoid the situation completely. I go, I shoot, I edit & I deliver my own results from what I’ve witnessed.

Due to clashes with other events I was scheduled for this year, I only attended four rounds of the BSB 2017 championship. I was at the first in Donington Park, followed up by Oulton Park & then two rounds at Brands Hatch including the final.

I knew that I had four main riders to capture throughout the year, across three teams. Michael Laverty & James Ellison in the MCAMS Yamaha team, Leon Haslam in the Speedfit Kawasaki team & John Hopkins in the Moto Rapido Ducati team.

During these events I was far too engrossed in making sure I nailed the work to even be able to put together an event by event recap for you here on Fueltopia, I’m sorry about that. I robbed you of four blogs. I also tried to vlog the events (videos at the bottom) those didn’t quite go to plan either as I was simply far too pre occupied with making sure I knew what was going on & getting the job done.

With excuses aside let me take you back to my first BSB round of the year. This was Round 1 at Donington Park, a circuit I’ve worked at a few times over the years so I was familiar with the layout. I arrived confident & ready.

Standing near the track for the first time as the bikes blasted past me was an experience. They were louder than I expected & considerably faster! Also from a photography point of view they were a lot smaller in my view finder… go figure, turns out bikes are smaller than cars…

After that epiphany hit me it was time to take in & learn how they move, the speeds in the straights, the lines in the corners. All of a sudden, the anxiety & worry about the whole thing was gone, I was filled with the want to capture what was happening as much as I could, a sudden urge to show my perspective on the events I was witnessing.

Post practice/qualifying & races the paddocks are alive with activity, teams are checking & preparing the bikes for the next outings & riders are discussing tactics & times with their teams. There is simply so much going on at all times. It was simply exciting to be a part of.

The paddock however is cramped, not as much as the incredible tight space Speedway riders work out of but its close. Everyone among the multitude of people present has a specific job which is carried out to perfection, because put it simply someones life always does depend on it.

A break in all this two wheel action came at the first Brands Hatch hosted round of the series. Monster Energy Gymkhana driver Luke Woodham lit up the track in his 200sx s14a and put on a smoke show for the fans. Ok yeah he blew up the engine during the final demo of the day but YOLO right?

That event also saw a Monster energy rig riot take place. What is a rig riot I hear you cry? Well, its controlled chaos as the Monster Energy Girls figuratively whip the crowd into a frenzy before the Monster Energy riders themselves show up and sign & distribute merchandise. Its always awesome to watch & you can see the fans love it.

Throughout my stint of BSB this year I have watched them race in all conditions, I saw people come off & I even heard of fatal accidents taking place over the race weekends I attended. The commitment to this sport is incredible, why do they choose to do it & why when they come off during a practice in the morning are they back on the bike that very afternoon, ready on the line to take on all challengers?

I don’t have the answer to that question but as this year has gone on I’ve learnt something which I’ve come to love about BSB. The passion, the drive, the sense of family among teams is second to none. Its much more personal than any other race series I’ve worked in. The emotions are there for all to see, these riders can’t hide their, they are exposed, on the line with only their helmet to shield their anticipation & uncertainty about the race ahead.

During the races themselves the concentration can be seen on their faces, several times I would frame a shot & almost feel like I was making eye contact with the riders. The emotion once the race is finished & the results are in is beautiful to watch too.

These guys are rock stars, the fans love them! The open pit line signing sessions are a blast. The interaction is golden & seeing the smiles on fans faces from kids to full grown adults is incredibly rewarding.

This is the beauty of bikes, people get fully attached to the riders themselves, more so I feel than in any other motorsport. I mean these guys are about to risk their lives for your entertainment? I think they deserve being made a fuss of by the fans, which they most certainly do! The energy is electric.

Of course I’m not saying that any other motorsport is less dangerous or anything like that but I will say they these guys get it wrong or something fails, its their bodies that strike the tarmac with very little to protect them.

My work days at these events were mostly taken up by my shot list requirements & making sure I was always in the right place at the right time, however I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get moments to enjoy where I was, to take it in & have what is really the best seat in the house for the proceedings. It was a pleasure to learn all about everything at first & then follow the 2017 BSB championship.

With my anxiety and worry leading up to round one, the unknown of it all, did I enjoy working my first ever 4 rounds of BSB? Hells yeah I did! I loved it, I enjoyed the energy, the speed, the noise, the teams, the fans, honestly I can keep going… but the riders to me, their attitude, the way they held themselves in a win & in a defeat, I truly admire that above all else. Yeh for sure I think they are crazy but I admire that crazy & I am honoured to have captured some moments from their 2017 season.

Words & pictures by Dan Fegent

Vlogs

Cutting Room Floor

Event

Burning Rubber in the Forest

20th July 2017 — by Dave Cox

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93,000 steps walked, 40,000 people, 30,000 horsepower, 4 days, 1 event, Gatebil.

Reviews

The Drako a car that demands respect

13th November 2016 — by JimmyDrama

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You can tell a lot by what a person drives. Just sit back and look and you’ll soon be able to build up a character of the person by the automobile they drive. So, what type of person builds a car that at any given crank of it’s mechanical beating heart wants to kill you? Dimitriy Illyuk is no normal person and he gave birth to one of the World’s most vicious drift cars, The Drako.
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The chassis is a master of illusion, they say that fear comes in many guises, this time the Nissan S14 has been over-hauled with the Rocket Bunny Boss kit. The end result is Japanese car that looks more like a US born Charger, that’s been jacked on an intensive steroid make over. Dark and moody in looks the beating heart of the re-worked V8 Nissan engine is where the business really gets interesting.

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Over 1100hp is produced by the 2012 Nissan VK56DETT, the engine keeps true to the Drako’s JDM heritage, but is far from stock. Mahle Motorsport pistons, paired with Carillo rods replace the standard items. The block and head are forced together under restraint from ARP’s head and main studs and it’s thanks to BC’s uprated valve springs this engine barks like one of Satan’s hounds.

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Fire spits from the external screamer pipes that poke through the bonnet like a pair of horns. The boost is triggered by a meaty pair of Garrett GTX3071R turbochargers.

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While producing an engine with insane HP numbers is no easy feat, getting that to the wheels is also an alchemy art. OS Giken R4c clutch mated with a Drenth MPG gearbox, fully customised and with reinforced internals was the only option for the Ukrainian driver. After all he wasn’t building a street car to impress the locals – this build was summoning demons from another dimension.

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After all this being a drift car, it needed insane lock. Wisefab front and rear Nissan S14 kit dons the car and works well with the Feal Suspension coilover kit.

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This car is pure aggression, Illyuk, a driver that is close to taming the Drako, but when this car goes it’s always got a wild streak that can never be truly domesticated. Tyres last a matter of milliseconds when all the power from the good foot is engaged, but we Dmitiriy beams from ear-to-ear every time he drives it, could he be the gate-keeper to combustion’s hades?

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Spec

1999 nissan 200sx s14a

Engine: 2012 Nissan vk56dett 1100hp Mahle motorsport pistons,Carillo rods, arp head and main studs, bc valve springs. 2x garrett gtx3071r turbochargers, 2x turbosmart powergate 60mm, 2x turbosmart raceport Bov’s, turbosmart fpr 2000, id2000 injectors , ais 3000 direct port water meth injection, ati race pulley.

Drivetrain: Os giken r4c clutch Tilton magnesium release bearing. Drenth MPG gearbox custom ordered reinforced internals. R230 differential with gtr shafts

Electronics: Vipec i88 Motec pdm16 Motec keypad Motec e888 can expander Link dash 2 pro Mil spec wiring and ecu maping and can programing by @afterfix

Suspension: Wisefab front and rear nissan kits Feal suspension coilovers

Exterior: Rocket Bunny Boss 2 kit

Interior: Rollcage by motorsportinheart S15lhd dash

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Reviews

I heart V8ters

20th April 2016 — by Fueltopia

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Over the past two years, Steve’s all-black Nissan S-Body has been the feather-weight amongst the heavy-weights in an all out Royale Rumble of drift. The team of Abbey Motorsport/SB Motorsport had taken all their know-how to make the SR engined Japanese whip compete with Goliaths of Europe, often cars with double power figures being served a warming dish of door-bang by the old four cylinder engine.

Now there is a new block in place and it’s about to take the car to the next level, the SR has been wrenched from the engine bay and been replaced with a healthy serving of good ol’ fashioned American muscle, with GM’s LS3.

Not since Pearl Harbour, has there been such an explosive partnership of East and West – the engine is far from stock, while the base block is an LS the good people at Chris Jeanneret Racing have splurged their skills into good use. The heads been CNC ported and the stock valves have been upgraded to some slick titanium numbers, combined with high pressure double valve springs and titanium retainers – It’s enough to give the Terminator a chubby.

The CJR spec camshaft add a lumpy chug to that already distinguished sound of the hearty V8 thanks to its 239/242 duration.

The sparks and shocks of the electrical system are all controlled by AEM management, while a 150hp shot of Nitrous Express’s giggle juice just gives that engine the ability to deal out another serving of ka-pow when required!

While spinning on the rollers the dyno had a hard time to even give over the figures, but the print out had this beast pinned at a respectable 700hp and 750lb/ft of torque. In a car that is lighter than Jack Black’s rice cake collection, it’s going to be an unreal ride and a car that while looking the same, dishes out a whole new world of punishment.

Video

Behind the lens #BattleDrift

25th March 2016 — by Fueltopia

If you thought filming a kickass drift edit was all fun and games, then you’d be… right. Check out the action behind the most-anticipated drift drop of 2015, Battle Drift, with out boy Vaughn Gittin Jr and Daigo Saito as they slay rubber, goof about and generally have a rad time.