In June the city of Le Mans is transformed into a festival of motorsport as 250,000 fans from around the globe travel to France for the world’s most famous race – the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race, which was first run in 1923, is more than just a motorsport event. It is one of the greatest sporting festivals anywhere. In fact National Geographic magazine named the 24 Hours of Le Mans as the best sporting event in the world, ahead of the soccer World Cup, the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl, which is quite an accolade.
The 2016 race will be the 84th edition of the 24 hours event. It is a test of endurance for man / woman and machine and this includes the 1200 international media who cover the event. Amongst the hundreds of photographers are five Fujifilm X Photographers – John Rourke (UK), Andrew Hall (AUS), Jacky Ley (FRA), Dirk Bogaerts (BEL) and Jeff Carter (UK) – who will be photographing the week long event and testing the X Series cameras and lenses to the maximum of their endurance.
In 2015 these photographers used Le Mans to test the upgraded autofocus firmware for the X-T1 and also the 1.4x converter. In the past 12 months Fujifilm have added the X-Pro2, the XF100-400mm telephoto zoom and the 2x converter to the X-Series line up and each of the five X-Photographers will be putting their equipment through the paces and pushing it to the max in their quest to provide their clients with the best pictures possible.
“Le Mans is more than just a motor race, it is a motorsport festival and a test of endurance for everyone involved,” said Jeff Carter. “This will be my sixth Le Mans in my role as the FIA Media Delegate. My role is to be in charge of the international media who attend all of the FIA World Endurance Championship events and assist them to do their job reporting on the events. As a photographer I also go out to shoot images of the event, capturing the spirit from the cars on track, the mechanics working on the cars and the fans enjoying themselves.
“Le Mans is also an immense test for the X-Series and myself and the other four X Photographers who work at Le Mans are proud to be able to showcase what the X-Series can do alongside our colleagues who shoot with Canon and Nikon. The X Series has come a long way in a very short space of time and anyone who says X-Series cameras can’t shoot sport has clearly not tried the latest cameras and lenses. I’ve shot international motorsport and international rugby with the X-Pro2 and X-T1 and both have produced the images that my clients need and expect. They don’t care what camera you use, they just expect great results.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans starts with The Pesage in the Place de la Republique in the centre of Le Mans. This is where the 60 cars and 180 drivers perform their technical and admin checks and it is done in front of the public, giving visitors the opportunity to see the cars and drivers up close at the start of the week. The Pesage lasts two days and then everyone moves back to the circuit.
Tuesday is a public day with spectators invited to take a walk in the pitlane and get an autograph or selfie with their favourite drivers.
Wednesday and Thursday two days of track action with Free Practice and Qualifying for the big race. The sessions take place during the day and into the night, which provides some great opportunities for action packed images.
Friday is a rest day with nothing on track, but the drivers take part in a parade through the streets of Le Mans in the afternoon, with thousands of fans lining the streets to get a glimpse of their favourite drivers.
The 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans gets underway at 3pm on Saturday afternoon after all the pomp and ceremony in the two hours leading up to the race. The high point is the playing of the national anthems of all the drivers taking part in the race, culminating with the singing of Les Marseillaise, the French national anthem by a singing and 100,000 French fans lining the track which is magnificent.
The race gets underway and everyone settles in for the long haul, which is action packed from the start until the very finish at 3pm on Sunday afternoon. The fans have a big party all around the track while the photographers try to capture the action on track and the ambience off of it.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a must for anyone with a mild interest in motorsport or those who just want to enjoy one of the best sporting spectacles in the world. The 2016 race will be captured in all its glory by the five Fujifilm X Photographers on the latest X Series cameras and lenses.
For more information on the 24 Hours of Le Mans visit www.lemans.org