Excellent podium performance from MacDowall in Portimao
Alex MacDowall produced two of his best FIA World Touring Car Championship race performances to-date during rounds 13 and 14 of the campaign at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve today, Sunday, 3rd June – claiming his fourth Yokohama Independents Trophy podium finish of the year.
Fresh from his first Independents victory during the previous event at the Salzburgring in Austria two weeks ago, the Chevrolet Cruze driver carried increased confidence forward to this weekend’s event near Portimao in southern Portugal and delivered sensational pace in both races.
In addition to taking third in the Yokohama Independents Trophy in today’s second encounter, round 14, the Carlisle ace posted the fastest class lap of 1m56.696 seconds which was also the third quickest of the race overall. In round 13, Alex only just missed out on the Independents podium by a mere 0.6 seconds but still took an impressive fourth in class and 10th overall.
“It’s been a good weekend, we had to work for it but we’ve proven we’ve got good race craft and we had really good race pace – especially in the second one”, said the 21-year-old, “Getting another top three in the Independents Trophy is great, and fastest lap in class is always good, plus we scored a good few points in the championship. It’s nice to go into the break off such a positive weekend.”
Qualifying on Saturday, 2nd June, didn’t go to plan for the Bamboo Engineering driver when he ended up with an uncharacteristic 15th fastest time in the first qualifying session, ninth in the Independents Trophy – therefore missing out on the top 12 ‘cut’ to progress into the all-important second period.
Alex was on course to comfortably move forward into part two of qualifying on his final lap of the opening 20-minute run but he admitted ‘over-driving’ in the final sector, ultimately costing him the 0.15 seconds he needed to progress and leaving a lot of hard work to do in both races.
All signs for raceday looked positive though after he made his intentions clear during warm-up with the fifth fastest time overall, quickest in class. Getting away very well from the rolling start at the beginning of round 13, he gained a couple of places through turn one and avoided some midfield skirmishes to emerge at the end of lap one in a fantastic ninth overall and third in class.
Moving into eighth, second in the Yokohama Independents Trophy, on lap three he then pressured Tiago Monteiro but heavy defence from the Portuguese driver pushed Alex into the clutches of Alberto Cerqui. The Italian managed to nose alongside Alex on lap five, putting him slightly wide, and therefore enabling Pepe Oriola to profit as well.
Leaving the Briton fourth in class and 10th overall, he tried to re-challenge Oriola during the closing stages – while also forced to defend from the advancing BMW of Stefano D’Aste – but just missed out on the Independents podium by 0.6 seconds. Alex did though set the third fastest class lap.
Starting round 14 from 15th on the grid again, Alex held position early on and then avoided mid-pack contact on lap two to slice his way through into 11th overall, fifth in class. Moving into ninth place, third in the Independents Trophy, on lap three – setting the fastest class lap of the race – he then piled on the pressure to Monteiro and got ahead on the sixth tour to grab eighth position overall.
Fellow Independents runner Norbert Michelisz though managed to usurp both as they battled, so Alex was bundled back to ninth, fourth in class, and sporting rear bumper damage. Undeterred, he brilliantly re-passed Michelisz at the start of lap eight before the BMW fought back but retirement for Gabriele Tarquini lifted Alex into eighth once more.
Pushing hard to pressure Michelisz over the final couple of laps, Alex was able to pass the BMW on the final tour to take third in the Independents Trophy and seventh place overall – hoisting Alex into fifth position in the Yokohama Independents Trophy standings, 13th in the overall WTCC points table.
After a very busy first half of the season, the FIA World Touring Car Championship now takes a seven week break from action with rounds 15 and 16 of the campaign set to take place over the weekend 21st/22nd July at Curitiba in Brazil.
2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd14):
1st Yvan Muller, 245pts; 13th Alex MacDowall, 28pts
2012 FIA WTCC ‘Yokohama Independents Trophy’ Driver Standings (after Rd14):
1st Pepe Oriola, 106pts; 5th Alex MacDowall, 50pts