24H SERIES 2020. A year in pictures

News | June 14, 2021

2020 might just be the most unorthodox season of them all in the 24H SERIES. Rain disrupted – and even shortened – CREVENTIC events in Dubai and Italy. Logistical nightmares brought on by a worldwide pandemic led to 11th hour cancellations of races in The Netherlands and Portugal. Heritage-rich venues like the Autodromo di Pergusa and the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza even made their series debuts in typically atmospheric fashion.

 

Present at all of them was the 24H SERIES’ resident photographer, Petr Frýba, who walks us through some of his favourite shots of the year across these pages.

Creative Spark

Where: Dubai Autodrome (Hankook 24H DUBAI)

When: Tuesday 7 January 2020

Who: Ciceley Motorsport (#462)

What: Mercedes-AMG GT4

Finish: 6th, GT4

 

 

To me, this image says a lot about the attitude involved in the 24H SERIES. It’s so full of colour and drama, but the work of the mechanic, his professionalism and the short amount of time he has to work with is what really makes the difference.

 

The low angle is important in this shot too. You can really see the concentration on this mechanic’s face, despite the sparks flying in all directions and even though he’s only wearing shorts! Clearly he knows what he’s doing.

 

At the time, I didn’t realise just how close I was getting to the sparks either! I was so focused on getting the best image I could from that situation, as you need to when you’re shooting an endurance event, it was only when I looked at the frame later that I realised just how close I was!

On the ragged edge

Where: Autodromo di Pergusa (COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily)

When: Friday 9 October 2020

Who: Mathieu Jaminet, GPX Racing (#36)

What: Porsche 991 GT3 R

Finish: GT Winner

 

Proof that sometimes a 24H SERIES race is more like rally cross!

 

A lot of the images from the Pergusa had drivers kicking up dust, either because they hadn’t been to the circuit before, they’d out-braked themselves at the end of those long straights, or they were too keen to get back on the power out of the chicanes. It was exciting to watch though because you could tell these guys were racing right to the edge. And ironically, because it was very dry at Pergusa, the dust they kicked back onto the track just made the racing line more slippery!

 

Another thing I like about this image is that GPX Racing used a special Gulf Racing livery for this event. If you look closely, one of the few things that wasn’t covered by the dust is the Ace of Spades logo that Porsche used on the 908/03’s original livery for the Targa Florio!

Chaos rains

Where: Autodromo Nazionale di Monza (Hankook 12H MONZA)

When: Saturday 11 July 2020

Who: Eric Mouez, Speed Lover (#979)

What: Porsche 911-II Cup

Finish: DNF

 

This shot is just crazy. It was taken at 2pm in the afternoon, and about 10 minutes before this, all we had was beautiful sunshine at Monza.

 

Nobody expected the rain to be as intense as it was: I was in the paddock when it started, and I only had a t-shirt and shorts on under my photographer’s vest, so I was stuck in one of the garages for a while! We are all professionals though, and you can’t let something like this stop you from doing your work. You have to adapt to circumstances, and for me, that inspires me to get more creative.

 

That’s why I like this picture. I only had a certain number of angles to work with, and because I was dealing with rain and the car’s headlights, it was a very difficult shot to get right. The thunderstorm was so violent that some teams lost communication with their cars too. The sun came back out about an hour later, but in this moment, in the pits, it was chaos!

Head-to-head. During quarantine

Where: Autódromo do Algarve (Hankook 24H PORTIMAO)

When: Saturday 13 June 2020

Who: Tom Coronel, Comtoyou team Audi Sport (#117); Rik Breukers, Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101)

What: Audi RS3 LMS SEQ; CUPRA TCR

Finish: 2nd, TCR (#117); DNF (#101)

 

During a 24-hour race, it’s actually very difficult to catch a battle like this on-track, so to see Tom Coronel and Rik Breukers fighting like crazy through the corner was very cool to see. It’s not easy finding an angle to shoot two cars at the same time and keep them both sharp – I prefer ‘dynamic’ shots where you can see the wheels moving – so I think I ended up with 10 or 12 different frames of this battle!

 

Portimão was also the first race back after quarantine, so everything that weekend felt… different. Everyone who was there wanted to be there, and safety was being taken very seriously (I was still wearing my mask on the track when nobody else was around). We just knew that this was an important race and that nobody would predict what was going to happen. So it was nice to see actual motor racing again and cars getting close on-track, even though we had to keep our distance in the paddock. 

Tagging In

Where: Autodromo Nazionale di Monza (Hankook 12H MONZA)

When: Saturday 11 July 2020

Who: Daniel Lloyd and Pepe Oriola, Brutal Fish by KCMG (#122)

What: Honda Civic FK7 TCR

Finish: 3rd, TCR

 

What I like about this image is the aggressive low angle. That’s tricky to do at the best of times, but this was done during a pit stop. And one thing you cannot do, as a photographer, is get in the way! Safety is really important, especially because the pitlane was right behind me.

 

You can see in the body language too how important it is to get the driver change done fast. Even though the younger guys can hop in and out rapidly, a few of the more ‘gentlemen’ drivers sometimes need a hand from the mechanics. So it’s quite rare to get a shot like this without a pair of mechanics legs in the foreground!

 

I love the lighting in this image too. Often the guy getting out of the car is in the shadows, or you can’t see what’s in the cockpit because the sun is in the wrong place. You can even see rays bouncing off the windows in the background. In this picture, the light was perfect.

The aftermath

Where: Dubai Autodrome (Hankook 24H DUBAI)

When: Saturday 11 January 2020

 

I want to make this very clear: this image has not been arranged! I walked into scrutineering on Saturday morning in Dubai, at about 7am, and this is what I saw.  

 

I’ve been shooting this race professionally for 12 years. I know all the corners. I know the best places to be when the sun goes down, and I know where I need to stand at turn one when the race starts. But this was a completely different experience. It was crazy, because everyone was waiting for the rain to stop throughout the night and it just kept coming. There was nowhere for the water to go except into the garages. And that meant, eventually, the Autodrome lost power too.

 

It’s a shame that the race couldn’t restart, but for me, it was quite exciting to discover a different way of capturing Dubai: I could only get this shot – which I think is very atmospheric with the water and the shadows – by abandoning my boots and wading into a puddle!

Red sky at night, photographer’s delight

Where: Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello (Hankook 12H MUGELLO)

When: Saturday 14 November 2020

Who: Thomas Gostner? MP Racing (#58)?

What: Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo?

Finish: 3rd (we’re pretty confident about that!)

 

Mugello in 2020, during the autumn, was really different to Mugello in 2019, during the spring, in pretty much every way. In November, we had to deal with heavy fog in the morning, which just wasn’t there in March. But that started to disperse around lunchtime, and at sunset, the cloud cover was just incredible! I really enjoyed re-discovering Mugello in 2020.

 

For this shot, I was only on the pitwall for about 10 minutes. It was pretty close to the end of the race and I needed to prepare for the chequered flag. But I saw this view and thought, ‘my God, I need that shot!’ It’s always best to have a car in these images as well, and because I was shooting long exposure, the car position LED panel can still be seen as a ‘light chain’ in the foreground. I’m not sure which car it was but I know it was running 3rd at the time!

 

Shots like this rely a lot on experience: you could spend an hour on this setup and still not get it. Fortunately I’ve done a lot of sunset images for CREVENTIC over the years!

Dream works

Where: Autodromo Nazionale di Monza (Hankook 12H MONZA)

When: Saturday 11 July 2020

Who: NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#175)

What: CUPRA TCR

Finish: 4th, TCR

 

This picture was taken at Monza about six or seven hours into the race. In the morning, it had been very hot, then there had been thunderstorms and hail. So everyone was just completely wrecked!

 

But here, you can see the dedication of the Bas Koeten Racing mechanics who are still working on the car. In soaking wet t-shirts! I’ve seen this many times in the 24H SERIES: mechanics doing everything they can to repair the car and get back on-track, because every member of the team wants to compete.

 

You do need to be careful though because the garages can get quite intense. I have a lot of friends in the paddock, and a lot of the mechanics, when they see me, they will strike a pose or let me get on with my work. And there needs to be mutual respect. We can’t afford to get in each other’s way! 

Flare for the dramatic

Where: Autódromo do Algarve (Hankook 24H PORTIMAO)

When: Saturday 13 June 2020

Who: Daniel Bohr, Mühlner Motorsport (#421); Alfred Renauer, Herberth Motorsport (#92)

What: Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS; Porsche 911 GT3 R

Finish: 1st in CAYMAN class; 1st overall

 

For me, this image is basically ‘right place, right time’ for pretty much all of the elements!

 

I experiment with this spot every year at Portimão, looking up the hill towards turn nine. But because the sun sets quite quickly, that doesn’t give me a lot of time. Maybe one hour, maximum, and the shot is gone.

 

So, to have two cars in the same frame is difficult. To have them placed so perfectly that the sun flares between them is incredible. You could try to get this picture over a hundred times, and still not get it. Experience helps, and you need to be prepared. But you do need quite a bit of luck, and fortunately I did this year.

 

I didn’t realise this at the time, but this picture shows the #92 Herberth Porsche, which went on the win the race, and the #421 Mühlner Porsche, which won the CAYMAN class. I must admit, to have two winners in one shot does make this one image a little more special!

Timing is everything

Where: Autodromo di Pergusa (COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily)

When: Saturday 10 October 2020

Who: Jordan Grogor, GPX Racing (#36)

What: Porsche 991 GT3 R

Finish: GT Winner

 

2020 was the first time I had worked at Pergusa since the European Touring Car Cup seven or eight years ago. And everything had changed! Back then, in July, it was unbearably hot and there were so many small insects around the lake. The condition of the track was pretty poor too. It was amazing to see how much had been put updated before CREVENTIC arrived last year. Plus, the ‘Coppa Florio’ was on in October, so that meant most of the insects were sleeping!

 

The light was slightly different as well, so that meant I could try this shot between the trees looking out over Lago Pergusa (I spent quite a few hours riding round the track and finding new spots to shoot from earlier in the week). Honestly, this might be the most difficult shot of the entire season. 

 

You need decently long exposure to capture a blurred background. You need to time your shot perfectly, otherwise you lose the car behind a tree. You need to maintain the same speed as the car, or it won’t be sharp. There’s nothing easy about this shot at all! It’s probably the one I am most proud of from 2020.

Celebration!

Where: Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello (Hankook 12H MUGELLO)

When: Saturday 14 November 2020

Who: Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112)

What: Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR

Finish: 1st in TCE, and Overall TCE Teams’ champion

 

I really like this image because there’s so much going on. This was in Mugello, Autorama had just won the TCE race, and the team had also won the TCE Teams’ championship. So, we have multiple areas of focus; we have lights going off inside the frame; we have spray from champagne; we have lights in the foreground but darkness behind it… there’s just a lot happening in the frame, Also, how long does a flash last? A couple of milliseconds? It’s crazy that the timing worked out so well!

 

I was actually waiting for the podium celebrations to start when I saw this, meaning there was only one angle I could use. But I think this wide angle helps show how excited the team, and every team member, is to have made to the end of the season. Everybody is tired after a long race, and there are still several hours of pack-up required after this on almost no sleep. But here, the team can celebrate the fact that all their hardwork has been rewarded in 2020.

share this content on: