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  • Writer's pictureJamey Price

Changing of the Guard in MotoGP

MotoGP is a fascinating sport. It is dominated by a few, but adored by many millions around the globe. Sometimes drawing more crowds to a race than the four wheeled Grand Prix cars do. Austin’s Circuit of the Americas played host to it’s first race weekend last November for the second to last round of the Formula One championship.  Five short months later, the Grand Prix bikes had their chance at the massive 3.4 mile Texas behemoth for round two of the MotoGP World Championship.

As in any sport, there are athletes who come in and dominate. They win, or have a chance of winning almost every weekend. But there is a new kid in town that seems to have shaken up the old guard. And this kid is INCREDIBLY talented. His name is Marc Marquez. He is a 20 year old rookie in the GP class but has already jumped onto a race winning Honda factory bike.  The minute pitlane opened and the track went hot, fresh faced rookie Marc Marquez was absolutely swinging off his bike. He stuck it to the far more experienced riders from the word go and topped nearly every session.

On Saturday Marquez made history as the youngest ever pole sitter for the GP class bikes. 24 hours later, he was the youngest ever winner of a MotoGP race. His smile said it all. And the looks on his rival’s faces said just as much.

Special thanks to Rizzo, Scott, Andrew, Jensen, Arrick, Kevin, Kerri, Garrett, Lacey, COTA’s friendly staff, the photo shuttle drivers, MotoGP and DORNA. You made it a fun and successful weekend and made me me feel right at home in the motogp press room.

© Jamey Price 2013. All rights reserved.

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Photographer’s note:

I’ll be honest, I absolutely wanted to cover the race as it has always been a dream to cover a MotoGP round. But I was dreading the experience. COTA is a VERY large track. It’s hard to get around with any amount of efficiency. The catch fences are tall and the photo holes to shoot through are few and far between, and never where you need/want them. It severely limits where you can photograph the cars on track. Photographing the small agile bikes on the circuit wasn’t something I was much looking forward to.

Much to my surprise, I was told by my friends in the media center that photographers were not subject to the silly rules that keep us so “safe” during car races. We were happily allowed to shoot between the catch fence and the armco guardrail that separates us from the track. What change of pace. Suddenly, this large and challenging track became 3.4 miles of creative canvas with which we could play with as we liked. No red zones where photographers weren’t allowed, no photo holes, no catch fences. Nothing. Have it and make pretty pictures was pretty much the brief. 

Shooting bikes is like nothing I’ve ever done. Of course I worked with Ducati at Pikes Peak last year, but that was different. These are proper circuit racing bikes. 215mph speeds reached down the long back stretch. The riders lean and list and hang off the bikes. It is an absolute joy to photograph. You can see every thing the rider is doing from the position of their head and shoulders to elbows and knees scraping across the rumble strip. As a photographer, you become intimately connected with the riders as they roar past you, each with a riding style uniquely their own. It took some getting used to as what works for shooting cars doesn’t necessarily work for bikes and what works for bikes doesn’t work for cars. But overall, It was AWESOME. The racing was great. The bikes are fun to watch and the people are easy to work around. You’ll find the riders signing autographs wherever they go and in general, they love the camera. 

I think it’s safe to say that I’m a big fan of photographing bikes after this weekend!

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