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BY MARK THACKARA

As the BTCC season reaches a climax, I talked to PMR Team Photographer Pete Aldridge about how he has been getting on both with a first full season shooting for the team and with Olympus kit.

How do you approach a race weekend?

I like to plan my photography weekend out, working with the team’s timetable I pretty much know where and when I’ll be shooting from at any point during the weekend. But sometimes a photo just grabbed in the moment stands out.

This shot I think exemplifies what the BTCC is all about. Without the dedicated fans and marshals the racing just couldn’t happen. Here we see members of the “orange army” and fans from the lively campsite applauding Jason Plato’s Astra on the warm down lap after a hectic first race of the day.

The versatile Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm PRO lens I had attached at the time meant I could grab this shot as I walked back from the inside of Hislops.

How do you select the images you decide to use?

I take an awful lot of photos over the course of a BTCC weekend. When sorting and editing them it’s always nice to come across a genuine smile.  That is something you always see from Louise Goodman. Someone who is the consummate professional and also clearly loves her job. Here we see good use being made of the tiny Thruxton garages to grab some words with her old sparring partner Jason Plato after he put his PMR Astra sixth on the grid during Saturday qualifying. Eager fans wait outside for autographs while grabbing their own memories. This photo just seemed right for a sympathetic B&W edit.

In the garage the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens was on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 MKII and the combination being so compact compared to my previous kit makes it so much easier in the confined space.

Are any of the Pro lenses surprising you?

At the start of the Donington weekend I was offered the chance to try out the Olympus Pro 7-14mm lens. Shooting with such an ultra-wide angle lens opens up creative possibilities that I found really came into their own as the PMR Astras lined up on the grid before the green flag laps. I’m keen on this shot as it shows Rob’s racing driver son Ricky observing preparations having just offered a word or two in his old’ man’s ear while in the background a lucky VIP frames their own photographic memory of their grid walk experience. A single drop of rain has landed on the lens as a reminder that conditions can change at a moment’s notice.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II – Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7‑14mm F2.8 PRO 1/2000 sec f/2.8 ISO320

What moment has stood out so far?

Free practice 1 was not only the first official session of the 2019 season but also my first time “behind the fence” as an accredited photographer, something I’ve been working towards for three years. Excitedly I headed towards a favourite spot at the inside of druids. Soon realising that to take the classic shot of the PMR Astra on the brow of the hill would mean standing in a red zone (very much a no-no) I had to quickly assess angles and deal with the dull light on offer. I was confident that if I could compose the shot the Olympus OM-D E-M1X could capture it!

This image of Jason’s Astra shows some good movement in the wheels and great separation between the subject and the iconic paddock hill in the background.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X – Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40‑150mm F2.8 PRO 1/100 sec f/5.0 ISO100

Is there any shot you try and get to convey the amazing atmosphere?

Well, there is flat and then there’s Norfolk! Luckily for the booming number of visitors to the Snetterton 300 circuit when the BTCC rolls into Nelsons county the good folks from MSV have provided areas of banking with fantastic views of the technical infield section of the track.

It’s good for us photographers too who are always pleased to have a healthy sized and happy crowd in the backdrop of our action shots.

Here we see Messrs Plato and Collard in race formation kicking up dust at Palmers as race one nears its conclusion while the crowd enjoy the early August Sun. Shot with the Olympus 40-150 f2.8 Pro which has become a firm favourite lens. The constant aperture and super usable zoom range coupled with dust and water resistance just make it a joy to have attached to the camera.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X – Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4 IS PRO 1/100 sec f/4.0 ISO100

And before the season finishes, what shot would you most like to get?

Well, I have really enjoyed getting some behind the scenes shots with the team and we plan to make a poster and book of those as a thank you for the season but we would all like to see a top of the podium winning celebration with the champagne flying everywhere – a good test of the weather proofing. 3 weekends to go so who knows.

Thank you Pete, we wish you good luck with the rest of the season.