Qualifying performance key to Austrian success says MacDowall
Carlisle’s Alex MacDowall says improved qualifying pace will be the key to a successful race meeting for his Bamboo Engineering team when the FIA World Touring Car Championship rolls into Austria this coming weekend, 19th/20th May, for rounds 11 and 12 of the season at the Salzburgring.
While the 21-year-old’s race pace has been consistently strong throughout his debut campaign in the WTCC, he hasn’t been altogether satisfied with the qualifying performance of his turbo-powered Chevrolet Cruze but he’s hoping to unlock more of the car’s potential during the sixth event of 2012.
Although qualifying didn’t go as well as Alex would have liked just over a week ago when the series visited the Hungaroring, two strong and competitive races enabled him to accrue a healthy bag of points in the Yokohama Independents Trophy to climb back into the top six in the class standings.
Salzburgring, which has a long and storied history as a former home of Grand Prix motorcycling, will be yet another brand new challenge and experience for Alex to get adjusted to but with some long, fast sections he’s quietly confident the configuration should play to his Chevrolet’s strengths.
“It looks quite a unique track, really fast, and it’s in the middle of a forest so it’s a bit like being at the Nürburgring”, said the Cumbrian racer, “I’m hopeful it should suit our car, the Chevy has got a good engine and I think there’ll be a fair bit of slipstreaming as there are some good, flat-out sections.
“We need to get qualifying sorted out. If we can find a set-up that allows us to get the best out of the tyres over one lap then we’ll be in much better shape than we have been recently. In the races we’ve been pretty strong pace-wise, it’s the qualifying where we’re losing out and then having a lot of work to do in the races. Hopefully we can turn that around in Austria, that’s the plan.”
As has been the case throughout the season so far, the WTCC competitors will have no pre-event testing at Salzburgring, the first on-track running will come during the two half-hour free practice sessions on the morning of qualifying.
Everyone will begin on a relatively level playing field though as the race meeting will mark the first time the WTCC has ever visited the track. In fact, it will be the first world championship car racing event to have ever been staged at the circuit.
The opening FIA World Touring Car Championship free practice session at Salzburgring will take place at 09.00 (local time) on Saturday, 19th May, with the second free practice following at 11.45 ahead of qualifying at 15.45.
On Sunday, 20th May, round 11 will begin at 13.20 (local time) with round 12 scheduled to commence at 14.35. Digital satellite and cable broadcaster Eurosport will screen qualification and the racing live across its television and online platforms – please check listings for more details.
2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd10):
1st Yvan Muller, 180pts; 15th Alex MacDowall, 12pts
2012 FIA WTCC ‘Yokohama Independents Trophy’ Driver Standings (after Rd10):
1st Pepe Oriola, 74pts; =6th Alex MacDowall & Alberto Cerqui, 27pts