Maurice Selden’s Top 10 rally photographs
Maurice Selden has been one of the world’s best rally photographers for over 40 years, in a brilliant career that saw him working for high profile agencies like LAT and Martin Holmes Rallying.
1. Bernard Darniche (Alpine Renault A110) – 1973 Morocco RallyMy first WRC Rally was the Morocco Rally in 1973. I had started working at LAT (the photo agency for Motoring News and Motor Sport) two days after leaving Derby School of Photography in July 1972. I had covered a few races at Nurburgring and Le Mans, then I was asked to go to Morocco. I was really thrown in at the deep end. The only person I knew on the event was Gerry Philips who was Rallies Editor at Motoring News, but he was co-driving for Shekhar Mehta in a Datsun 240Z on the event. So I had to find my own way around, driving a Renault 5 hire car. It was an open road event, so I was able to drive into stages until I found an area that I liked. I sat waiting for the cars to arrive for more than four hours, because all the cars had been delayed. Mehta and Philips had rolled the 240Z into a ball early in the day, so I never saw it in action. The rally was won by Darniche / Mahe driving an Alpine Renault A110. I think that I only saw the cars four times in the four days of the rally because of the long distances between stages, but I was smitten, I loved it all. This is one of my favourite pictures from that rally, and shows the A110 passing through a desert oasis.
2. Michele Mouton (Audi Quattro) – 1981 San Remo RallyThis photo shows Michele Mouton and Fabrizia Pons on their way to winning 1981 WRC San Remo Rally in Northern Italy, driving their Audi Quattro, the first time a woman had won a WRC rally. I drove into the stage and parked for two hours before it was due to be run. When I heard the cars in the distance I knew there was a problem, because they were not going flat out. The stage had been cancelled for some reason, but the competitors still drove through as a road section. I tried to make the best of the location, and I loved the way that it looked as if Mouton was on top of the world.
3. Lars-Erik Torph (Toyota Supra 3.0i) – 1987 Safari RallyThis is another of my favourite photos. It shows Lars-Erik Torph and Benny Melander driving their Toyota Supra 3.0i to third place on the 1987 Safari Rally in Kenya. I photographed every Safari Rally from 1977 to the final one in 2003. It was one of those rallies that did not have restrictions on where we were able to photograph, even though it would have been quite easy to stay close to Nairobi and still get a reasonable set of images. I had been told by a few co-drivers that there was a very spectacular area near Maralal, which was about 400km north of Nairobi. It meant leaving the hotel at 2.00am to get to area before the cars were due. Driving at night is never a good idea in Africa, but we thought it was worth the risk. Hugh Bishop, Willy Weyens and myself reached the area well in time to see the first cars. After a couple of cars passed this native man arrived. At first, he offered to move away from the stage, but we were happy to include him in the pictures. When we were about to leave he asked if I could send him one of the photos. I gave him a pen and he wrote his address in beautiful handwriting. When I returned to the UK I printed a few photos and sent them to the address, plus a copy of Autosport Magazine, which had used one of them. Several years later I was at another location hundreds of kilometres away from Maralal, when a smartly dressed man came up to me and shook my hand. He asked if I remembered him. It was the same native. He told me that he was a school teacher in Maralal and had put the photos and magazine on the school room wall.
4. Matthew Wilson (Ford Focus RS WRC) – 2010 Rally SwedenThis photograph is of Matthew Wilson and Scott Martin jumping their Ford Focus RS WRC over the famous Colin's Crest on the Vargasen Stage on the 2010 Swedish Rally. This well-known jump is a magnet for most photographers on the event. Most choose to photograph the jump from the front, behind the safety of the trees, but I liked the way that the light was shining through the smoke from the spectators’ bonfires, so I stood just before the jump and concentrated on the spot where the car was likely to land. I was fortunate that Wilson landed crookedly.
5. Carlos Sainz (Toyota Celica GT-Four) – 1991 Acropolis RallyThis was taken on the 1991 WRC Acropolis Rally in Greece, and shows Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya driving their Toyota Celica GT-Four to second place on a stage near Gravia, in the centre of the country. I first saw this location a few years earlier as I was exiting an access road into the stage. At that time there were only back markers left running around the small church. Two years later, I let my passengers continue driving to the stage, while I sat and waited on the hillside for the leading cars to arrive. The photo happened just as I hoped, with the trail of dust behind the car. That was the only car I managed to get a clear photograph of, because there was no wind that day and the dust hung in the air, hiding the following cars.
6. Petter Solberg (Citroen C4 WRC) – 2010 Rally of TurkeyThis photograph is of Petter Solberg and Phil Mills driving their Citroen C4 WRC on the 2010 Rally of Turkey, where they finished second. The rally had changed from its usual location in Kemer, Antalya, to a new base at Pendik, about 15km from Istanbul. Because all the stages were new, I spent two days driving the stages to look for photo locations. One of the stages had a fast straight on gravel leading to a crest across a small tarmac road. I was sure that it would be a good jump and all the co-drivers I asked agreed. The stage was to be run twice, so there were many photographers there. It turned out to be one of the biggest jumps that I had ever seen. This shot of Solberg was spectacular, but later a Ukrainian driver in a Mitsubishi was much higher (over three metres!) and when he landed he tore a front wheel off the car. He continued to the end of the stage, reached service, and also drove the stage again later in the day, but much slower!
7. Ari Vatanen (Ford Escort RS1800) – 1976 Granite City RallyThis photograph was not taken on a WRC rally, but on the 1976 Granite City Rally, a round of the British Open Rally Championship. It shows Ari Vatanen and Peter Bryant driving their Ford Escort RS1800 to first place. It was a standard joke among photographers that if Ari was the next car we should take a couple of steps back, as he always appeared faster and used more of the road than other drivers. Just from the sound of his engine, I could tell that he was much faster than the previous cars. When he appeared, he was already far more sideways than anybody else. He went into the ditch on the outside of the corner, but kept his foot down and managed to keep going. Ford in the UK used the photograph in their national advertising, and I know that it is one of Ari's favourites.
8. Mikko Hiroven (Ford Focus WRC) – 2011 Rally DeutschlandThis shot of Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen in their Ford Focus WRC was taken on the 2011 WRC Rally Deutschland. Generally, I prefer gravel events, but I have grown to enjoy Deutschland because of the variety of tarmac roads that they use. They range from the tight narrow, bumpy roads of the vineyards in the Mosel Valley, to sweeping roads through the countryside of Saarland, and then onto the very fast, rough concrete roads on the military ranges of Baumholder.
9. Sebastien Loeb (Citroen DS3 WRC) – 2011 Jordan RallyThis photograph of Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena driving their Citroen DS3 WRC was taken on the 2011 WRC Jordan Rally. I was driving on my way to one of the stages by the Dead Sea when I saw this man with his camel standing on the side of the road. He seemed totally disinterested in the rally cars as they passed by him, so I stopped my car and asked if I could take some photographs of him.
10. Ari Vatanen (Peugeot 205 T16) – 1985 Swedish RallyI have very few Group B photos because while they were competing I was working at LAT. This shot of the Peugeot 205 T16 was taken on the 1985 WRC Swedish Rally, and shows the winners, Ari Vatanen and Terry Harryman, on a stage that was ploughed out on a frozen lake. All photos copyright Maurice Selden.
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