Cadwell Park – April 2018 – Bit of a disaster

I went to Cadwell Park on Sunday 22nd April 2018 to once again support my friend Paul competing in the 2nd round of the 2018 No Limits bike racing event, Newcomer 1000 series. The weekend got off to an ominous start when he fell off the bike during the Saturday race, where he started 6th and stormed into the lead on the 1st lap but then came unstuck on lap 2. Only his ego was bruised on this occassion and the bike, although needing some work, was ready for racing on Sunday where he was due to compete in 3 races (so made more sense for me to make the 6 hour round trip on the Sunday).

I left home at 7:40am, got to Cadwell Park at 10:20am, got in to Cadwell Park at 10:45am, and had just about managed to park and get to the nearest viewing spot (bottom of the “mountain” corner) in time for Paul’s first race of the day at 11am. Four laps in the race was red-flagged, a bike was down, and on fire, somewhere on track! I watched as the bikes came round the bend and into the pit / holding area. Paul’s bike wasn’t one of them! I walked round the footpath along the fence towards the outer section of the track, and there was Paul getting out of the van used to recover downed bikes!

It turns out Paul started last in this race (after coming off in Saturday’s race), had got up to 10th and was trying to overtake for 9th, when he was pushed wide and lost control. He and the bike survived the fall, but as he approached the bike to pick it up, it caught fire! The marshalls quickly put it out, but that was the end of the road for the bike, and as it turned out, for him also. Later that day he went to hospital and they confirmed he’d fractured his wrist.

Here’s the bike after it was recovered to the paddock, although it looks worse than it is (covered in fire extinguisher foam) it was still pretty bad, various bits had melted and other bits were bent!

Having come all that way I was determined to take some photos however, but I immediately realised Cadwell Park was a very different kind of circuit to Snetterton. The track passes very close to the fence for most of it’s length, offering great viewing for the spectators, but it also meant the big Sigma was overkill, it’s minimum focal length of 150mm (225mm effective on my crop-sensor camera) was just too long, so I fitted the 18-200mm zoom instead.

In hindsight I should’ve known what would happen, the 18-200mm is the very epitome of a “consumer” lens, a useful focal range for everyday photography (which is why I bought it) but not a great performer, especially at it’s extremes, i.e. fully zoomed out and / or at it’s widest apertures. I made the mistake of using Shutter Priority mode, because I wanted to experiment with shutter speeds to get the right balance between sharpness and motion, but that meant the camera decided the aperture, and invariably decided to use the widest available for the focal length. At it’s widest the lens is “soft”, and when I got home I was somewhat disappointed with the shots I’d taken.

Here’s a Flickr gallery of the 100 or so shots I felt were “OK”, but bearing in mind I took 1600 shots, this represents a 6% “keeper” rate, not very good, I should’ve captured a lot more better shots than these.


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