Every now and then it’s worth looking longer and harder at one of the most spectacular pictures produced from the World Rally Championship. This is one such moment as Mikael Ericsson, Nicky Grist and François Baudin combined brilliantly to deliver this award-winning shot from the 1992 Safari Rally.
The photograph comes at the end of the first section of the second day on the event. Baudin remembers the day well and the choices it provided.
“The cars were passing quite close to Kilimanjaro,” Baudin told DirtFish. “I was trying to frame the cars with the mountain, but the mist had come down and hidden the giant. We found there were some giraffes in the field, it would have been nice to have them, but the light wasn’t right. In the end, we saw at the control there was some fesh-fesh.
“The first cars started to arrive and I realized there was a great opportunity for a nice picture…”
Around that same moment, approaching the finish of the section, Grist had started to look closer at his watch.
There’s 1000 things going on in the picture.Nicky Grist
Grist takes up the story.
“Back in 1992, the event was still timed to the minute. That meant, if you got to the end of a stage at, say 11 minutes and 59 seconds, you were timed at 11 minutes. A second later and you were timed at 12 minutes – and you’d effectively lost one minute.
“From quite a way out, I could see it was going to be close getting into the control. I was telling Mikael to push, but then, of course, you have to get the car stopped in the actual control.
“He was braking like s**t and banging the thing down the gears as we came in. We made it by two seconds!”
The shot Baudin captured won him the Photographer of the Year award at the 1992 Race of Champions. It’s cherished by both snapper and subject.
“There’s 1000 things going on in the picture,” said Grist.
“As well as the drama with the dust being kicked up from the car, look at the time card coming out of the door. Which side is it on? The marshal was ready for a right-hand-drive car.
“You were only given your time once the marshal had the card in his hand. As soon as they had it in their hand, they would yell “Time!” and the timekeeper sat at a desk nearby would stop the clock and give you that minute. This is why you would often see co-drivers leaping out of the car and running at the marshals – it was fantastic drama.
“As we were coming to the control, I knew I wouldn’t have time to get out, get around the car and hand the card over. So, while he was trying to slow the car down at the absolute last minute, I was passing Mikael the time card and telling him he had to open his door and give it to the guy. It was just incredible, such a moment. These were the sort of things that made the Safari so special.”
For those photographically minded, Baudin provides more detail.
“I was shooting at 300mm, but then I got closer,” he said. “I fixed a x1.4 multiplier for the picture. It was such an honour to win this award against other guys like Reinhard Klein, Tamotsu Futamura, Hugh Bishop, Pascal Huit and Maurice Selden – sorry for the names I miss!”