This was not really a photo opportunity, but a chance to drive an Aston Marin DB9 on a test track at Longcross in Surrey, courtesy of a belated Christmas present and 6th Gear Driving Experience. I was booked in for three quick laps; me at the wheel and a trained racing driver instructor in the passenger seat. No speed limit, no speed cameras, no traffic police but some nerves which would prevent me from doing anything too dangerous, particularly as it had not stopped raining all day and the track was very wet.
I was unsure what to expect when I arrived at Longcross. There were a lot of people waiting their for turn to drive a range of supercars. Audi R8, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Ariel Atom and of course the Aston Martin amongst the marques. I was scheuled to drive at 3.30pm but after a long wait under an umbrella my name was finally called, about an hour later. I was introduced to my instructor and shown the basic controls, including the ‘flappy paddles’ for changing gear. He told me he would instruct me when to accelerate, brake, change up or down and where to position the car on the track. It felt a very controlled situation but perhaps it had to me given how powerful the car was, the track conditions and the fact there was very little run off. Most of the track was enclosed by unforgiving trees so a small mistake could be costly to both man and beast…..not that the DB9 could be called a beast……more the beauty then the beast.
I soon overcame any nerves and it was not long before a Lamborghin Gallardo appeared ahead of us on the track going more slowly. I was delighted when we reached a section of straight…..the instructor checked the mirrors, no one close behend, so he gave me the word to plant my foot on the accelerator and overtake. The sound of the V12 engine came to life as the revs increased. In no time at all, I had hit nearly 90 miles an hours, passsed the Gallardo, only to be told it was time to brake before the next corner. An experience to remember.
The three laps were thrilling but over all too quickly, so out came the Olympus OMD and the 45mm to 200mm Panasonic Lumix zoom lens to record the event. The rain still came down so whilst the light was terrible, the reflections off the tarmac surface made for some interesting reflections.
Aston Martin DB9….ready and waiting
Olympus OMD 45-200mm @ 109mm f9 1/20 ISO 1250
Aston Martin DB9….on the track
Olympus OMD 45-200mm @ 45mm f4.5 1/60 ISO 1600
Lamborghin Gallardo Spyder
Olympus OMD 45-200mm @ 103mm f9 1/60 ISO 1250
Ariel Atom and the spray
Olympus OMD 45-200mm @ 61mm f9 1/20 ISO 1600
Olympus OMD 45-200mm @ 115mm f5.6 1/20 ISO 1250
Although I have not had many reasons to use the 45-200mm lens very often, I am impressed. But what impressed me more was the built in 5 axis image stabilisation of the OMD. Although the 45-200 has built in IS, it was turned off, as I assumed it would be fighting the Olympus IS. If you look at the exif data on some of these shots, take the Ferrari above for example, this was taken at 1/20 second and is as sharp as you could expect given the conditions. The 35mm or full frame equivalent of 115mm is 230mm, so to hand hold this camera and lens and still be able to shoot at such a low shutter speed just demonstartes how good the Image Stabilisation is in the OMD. Well done Olympus!