Remember the GoPro video of the downhill skateboarder that tripped the speed camera on Kloof Nek Road? Well, he’s back in the latest promotional video for Mercedes Benz’ new A45 AMG hot hatchback.
The beautifully filmed video pits Decio Lourenco, the 24 year old downhill skater, against the Robbi Smith new Mercedes Benz A45 AMG in a mock race along the Franschhoek Pass. The amazing slow-motion shots were accomplished using a Phantom Flex camera –
The A 45 AMG is the epitome of performance, control and expression – essential attributes shared with extreme downhill skateboarding. In a beautifully filmed video pitting man against machine these unlikely four-wheeled allies tango at high-speed on the majestic Franschhoek Pass in the Western Cape.
In order to visualise and share this idea, we challenged Decio Lourenco – a 24-year-old graphic design student by day and champion downhill skateboarder by night (or perhaps it’s the other way around) – to ride alongside Mercedes-Benz’s game-changing pocket rocket.
Decio’s passion for his sport extends to a point few of us would dare to go: hurtling down steep hills at speeds in excess of 100km/h, with considerably fewer safety features than your average Mercedes-Benz.
Some might call it sheer insanity, but in over a decade of countless high-speed descents, a ‘pretty bad roastie’ is the worst injury he’s had. And it’s no dumb luck. Like his counterpart in the video, Decio’s ability to hug hard tarmac turns at improbable speeds and unnatural angles is the result of years of practice – that never-ending ritual that fuels our passions.
Behind the wheel was former pro racing driver Robbi Smith, the go-to-guy for jobs involving cars where perfection is a prerequisite. Having been involved in stunt and precision driving for over 25 years, Robbi has featured in more than 1 200 vehicle television commercials – including a couple for Mercedes-Benz.
No stranger to the Franschhoek Pass, Robbi relished the opportunity to put the A 45 AMG through its paces, and was consistently blown away by the capability of this pocket rocket. With the pass closed for shooting by traffic officials, he probably had the most ideal testing ground imaginable.
Similarly, Decio basked in the rare opportunity of having an entire mountain pass as his playground, carving, bombing and sliding his way down with a playful abandon that belies immense concentration. Crouched low in his racing leathers and helmet, he mirrored not only the aerodynamics and compactness of the A 45 AMG Edition 1, but also the distinctive colouring package – Cirrus white with matt graphite stripes and distinctive red detailing on the grille, seat stitching, brake calipers, side-view mirrors, seatbelts and rear spoiler.
Over three days on the magnificent Franschhoek Pass, an enthusiastic crew from Bring Back Choirboy pulled out all the stops to capture this speed-of-light ballet. Their arsenal included extreme slow-motion cameras, helmet-cams, car mounts, remote-controlled drones filming from the air, plus cameramen on skateboards weaving between man and machine
Aside from some badly chewed fingernails on the safety and medical crew’s side, the shoot went off without a hitch and yielded some breathtaking sequences. Despite nearly three decades separating Robbi and Decio, it’s more than a thirst for adrenaline and an unrelenting commitment to their particular form of art that unites them. After a few days with the A 45 AMG, both gentlemen now desire one.
We’re very excited to bring you this much-anticipated production, created in conjunction with Bring Back Choirboy.
Directed by Luke Apteker.
Filmed by Cale Jansen.
Phantom camera operated by Karl Schmidt.
Aerial photography by Dean Engela and Tommy Gunn.
Time-lapse photography by Rory Allen.
Edited by Matthew Swanepoel.