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Johnny Cecotto and Johnny jr. back again in Holland...

Weekend June 3-5th 2006 at Zandvoort, Holland
Johnny Cecotto jr. had to race in our own country this weekend. A great opportunity for a visit of course. Johnny knew I would come together with my wife and daughter and was going to try to arrange tickets. We left our home at 07.50 hours to drive to Zandvoort where we arrived at 09.25 hours. I called Johnny to let him know we had arrived and he told he had tickets for us but we had to wait because Johnny jr. had just gone to the drivers meeting. We waited at the entrance until Johnny jr. came by on his scooter with the tickets. It seemed Francisco also had come by but he had looked at the other entrance and so couldn't find us. We walked while Johnny jr. drove next to us towards the paddock to the Koiranen Bros. Motorsport team where also Johnny Cecotto welcomed us now, just like Francisco and Dennis (mechanic). They already were working on the cars to prepare them for practice which would start at 11.00 hours. Johnny told he would leave again tomorrow so he wouldn't be there on Monday whit the races. He looked at time table of free practice now together with Johnny jr. The car was driven outside by Francisco and Dennis to be taken to the entrance of the circuit. There everyone had to wait until the entrance to the track was given clear. The sun was already shining bright and it looked as if was going to stay this way. I had bought a new digital camera and so it still was a bit difficult to handle with this one. I was practicing all kind of things and so made a lot of pictures. Johnny jr. asked me if I could make some photographs while he was driving because of his sponsors. With my old camera it almost wasn't possible to do but with this one it would be no problem. I said to him with a smile I wasn't a professional photographer. The sign came for all the drivers to get ready for practice. Johnny jr. put on his racing gear and stepped into his car to wait for the next sign to get entrance to the track. After a few minutes all the cars went on the track one by one and I walked towards the pit with Carolien and Lindsey. There they went to the back to sit on the standings while I got up on top of the pit where you have an overview of the straight, pit and back of the circuit. Now it was only a short period of patience for the official practice to start. I couldn't get exactly above the pit where the Koiranen Bros. Motorsport team was but I still managed to make some good photographs from above. Johnny jr. waited a while in the pit although practice already had begun to get out on the right moment. When the biggest part of the cars went on to the circuit he also got out. While he was driving his laps I tried to make some good pictures. They already looked better as the ones with my old camera but the problem on Zandvoort is that you almost don't have any places where there aren't fences or piles to get into your way. After the first session Johnny jr. did get on the 7th spot. When the 2nd session started I went to the back of the pit to be able to make some pictures at the Tarzan curve. But also there I walked into the same problem. I went down to get really stand into the Tarzan curve now and to make my photographs. Here I just could get above the fences and take some reasonable pictures. Practice had almost finished by now and Johnny jr. finally became 8th position. I walked back to the standings where Carolien and Lindsey already stood waiting for me. We went to the paddock to get to the Koiranen Bros. Motorsport team again. We talked a bit with Johnny who was standing outside and went to get something to eat afterwards. While we sat there we heard the speaker say Johnny jr. had to come to the timekeeping. When we came back later at Johnny jr. he told his best time in 2nd session was cancelled while he had driven another driver from the track. Although the driver in question said Johnny jr. wasn't to blame for that his punishment stood still. He was taken back to 10th position for the 2nd race on Monday. I made some more pictures at the Koiranen Bros. Motorsport team and went back to the standings to look at some other races. We saw some famous people from Holland like Gaston Starreveld and Rintje Ritsma. We went back again to Johnny to say good bye to him. We talked some more about his possible driving in the 24 hour race on the Nürburgring. He gave us another ticket for the races on Monday just in case anyone else wanted to come with us. It seemed to be a ticket which gives you access to the pit, so this was going to be very useful to me. We drove home and took something to eat on our way and arrived back in Tilburg at 18.45 hours. Tomorrow it was a day of rest for all the drivers and on Monday there were 2 races held in the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC. We would be there again. On Monday again with Carolien and Lindsey I already left home at 06.45 hours because Johnny jr. would start in the first race of today. I didn't know how crowdie it was going to be on the road and I wouldn't want to get there too late. On our way we had some small rain but we arrived without any problem at 08.30 hours at the circuit and were able to put our car at the back of the grandstand with the parking ticket we got from Johnny jr. The team of Koiranen Bros. Motorsport already was standing ready and we were welcomed by Johnny jr., Francisco and Dennis. The sun started to shine a bit now but it still was a bit windy which is very usual here at Zandvoort. Francisco told some stories about the things that happened during his career and races. The cars were taken to the meeting place some time later to await entrance to the circuit for the start of race 1. I walked with them to shoot some pictures again while Johnny jr. sat in his car. Francisco already went to the starting grid while I and Dennis stayed with Johnny jr. till he would drive onto the circuit. Quickly we walked towards the starting grid while Carolien and Lindsey had taken a seat on the grandstand. I didn't find any difficulties to get on the track with the card I got from Johnny on Saturday, luckily because Francisco didn't have another pass available for me this time. On the starting grid Johnny jr. was taken in a close up by the camera man during the live broadcast while I made some pictures. Later it seemed I also had been on television. When I gave Johnny jr. a hand to wish him all the best my camera bag touched the mirror of his car and it was changed from position a bit. I have to say I felt very ashamed that moment and I apologized to him. Dennis did put the mirror back in it's position after which I got of the track. Johnny jr. didn't get away very well at the start and he lost 4 places. I tried to make pictures along a place near the track especially for photographers but was removed by a marshal which was kind of nonsense while you were allowed to stand some 3 meters further but couldn't make any because of the fences. I just went back again to the Tarzan curve to take my pictures. Johnny jr. again had some fights with van der Slik just like at the Nürburgring and he blocked him again occasionally. The was abandoned one lap before the end because of an accident and Johnny jr. still managed to get 8th position. I made some more photographs from above the pit and went back to my wife and daughter. We got back to the team of Koiranen Bros. Motorsport where we were invited by Dennis to get ourselves a cup of coffee. Back at the tent we had a conversation with mechanic Dennis, a real nice guy indeed. As for the weather wasn't that great and there was a lot of wind both Carolien and Lindsey were cold and Dennis got two big coats out of his car they could use the rest of the day. We now went to a terrace to sit and eat something. At the grandstand we looked at a few races. Later this afternoon we sat on the standings at the back of the pit and the famous Dutch family "de Veerkampjes" were doing some shots for their "real life soap" on television. That gave us something to laugh. We went back to the paddock at about 15.45 hours to look at the preparations of the team for race 2. Some time later the cars were taken again to the place to await the signal for entrance to the circuit. There Francisco saw there was a rip in the left rear tire of Johnny jr. and already got up to the starting grid to put everything ready to change it. The sun had started to shine again and it made everything a bit more comfortable. Before the cars got on the track I also walked up to the starting grid to be there in time. I was there before the cars did and I saw Dennis waiting with next to him the spare tires. When Johnny jr. arrived they immediately started to change the ripped back tire. I looked if I saw Carolien and Lindsey on the grandstand but I couldn't find them in the crowd. I made pictures from all kind of positions but had put my camera bag on the ground near the track as precaution. I wanted to occur my bag would bump to something again. That wasn't going to happen to me twice today. Johnny jr. sometimes looked up straight into the camera and that always gives a photograph something extra. It seemed we were waiting much longer on the starting grid this time until the sign was given to clear the track. Francisco said something to Johnny jr. about which tactics he should use at the start and went back walking with the material car to the pits. Me and Dennis stayed on the track for a while with Johnny jr. It always gives you a great feeling to stand here on a starting grid of a race, a place where you normally aren't allowed to be. A lot of people stand next to the fences to watch and they surely will asked their selves why I'm standing there and they don't. The speaker by the way was full of praise about Johnny Cecotto jr. and said we are going to hear a lot more of this driver in the future. Of course I agreed to his words! Mechanic Dennis sat next to the car of Johnny jr. and gave a thumb up when I took a picture. The siren went giving the sign to clear the track now. I gave Johnny jr. a hand and wished him all the best. In a hurry I ran to the back of the circuit near the last corner before the straight where you don't have any obstacle of the fences. There I was able to make some nicer action photographs. I arrived there just when the start of the race was given and I prepared myself to make some pictures of Johnny jr. When everyone passed by Johnny jr. was missing however. I heard the speaker say there had been an accident and Johnny jr. was involve also. He also said there wasn't any blame on Johnny jr. because he was hit by someone else. Of course I felt sick about this but I'm sure Johnny jr. was also. When I got back to the paddock Carolien and Lindsey came walk back already from the grandstand. Lindsey had been recording the accident coincidently with my other digital camera from the big television screens they show to the spectators. When the race was finished I went to the place where the retired cars always get back from the circuit. Johnny jr. was taken back to the paddock sitting at the back of a car. Some time later also the involved cars were taken back to the parc fermer by some trucks. Especially the left back of the car was pretty much damaged. We went back to the Koiranen Bros. Motorsport team now where they already had started to pack things up. Dennis got his borrowed coats back and already said good bye to us while he was very busy with pulling down all the material. I gave a hand to Francisco and promised I would sent him some pictures very soon. Johnny jr. came to us after he had changed to say good bye to us. He didn't have any obstacle of his accident. Here after we went away to get home again. It gives me some work again to be able to make another visit and hopefully that will be when Johnny Cecotto is going to take part in the 24 hour race at the Nürburgring from June 16th till 18th.

Formula Renault 2.0 Zandvoort 2006

Johnny Cecotto & Fransisco Freitas
in the pit
Johnny Cecotto jr. on the grid