BTCC Rookie MacDowall Makes Excellent Debut at Thruxton
Silverline Chevrolet’s Alex MacDowall made a superb Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship debut during the 2010 season curtain-raiser at Thruxton over the weekend, 3rd/4th April – the Carlisle teenager closing out the race meeting a highly impressive seventh overall in the driver standings.
Bouncing back very well indeed from a problematic qualifying session, 19-year-old Alex produced an outstanding drive during his first ever BTCC race on Sunday morning to climb from 15th on the grid into a fine top seven finish.
Backing this result up with an even better sixth place in round two, during which he emerged victorious from an entertaining duel with fellow BTCC graduate and former ELF Renault Clio Cup arch-rival Philip Glew, Alex rounded-off the first event of his maiden campaign with ninth place in round three.
Concluding the weekend just a single point behind double BTCC Champion Matt Neal in the driver standings, and ahead of touring car mainstays such as Gordon Shedden, Robert Collard, Tom Onslow-Cole and Tom Chilton, Alex is now focused on producing a similarly strong showing at Rockingham in Northamptonshire three weeks from now.
“It’s been a good weekend, to finish all three races inside the top 10 and to show I’ve got the pace to run among the top drivers is a great start to my touring car career”, said the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star.
“I really wanted to get a podium out of the weekend but I’m happy with what we’ve achieved. The main thing now is to carry this pace forward to Rockingham and try and push even closer towards the front. I’m very pleased with my performance and that of the team, everyone at Silverline Chevrolet and RML has done a fantastic job.”
Qualifying on Saturday afternoon took place in mixed conditions but during the early running Alex was as high as third and looked all set for a top six grid slot for round one. Unfortunately, a random ride-height check on his Chevrolet Cruze was negative meaning all of his times to that point were disallowed. With a sterling last-lap effort though, he posted a time good enough for 15th on the grid.
For Sunday’s three races the weather had improved markedly and at the start of round one, Alex made consistent progress to move closer and closer to the top 10. Sensibly taking care of his tyres during the early laps, the Cumbrian racer then benefited when the Hondas of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal hit troubles with punctures – Thruxton a track renowned for high levels of tyre wear.
By lap 14, Alex was into eighth position and a lap later he managed to pass the ex-works Vauxhall Vectra of David Pinkney to take seventh place where he remained to the chequered flag. His best lap of the race, 1m20.014 seconds, was just eight 10ths of a second shy of team-mate Jason Plato’s best.
In round two, the 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup Vice-Champion started seventh on the grid by virtue of his finishing result from race one and he immediately moved into the top six at the complex on lap one. Although slipping behind a determined Matt Neal on lap nine, he was largely untroubled for the duration. In terms of lap times, Alex’s best was within a mere 0.2 seconds of Plato’s fastest.
Round three wasn’t quite as successful for Alex as a potential podium challenge wasn’t possible due to a tricky getaway at the start. Lining up fourth on the grid due to the reverse-grid format for that race, he struggled to get away cleanly from the outside of row two and slipped out of the top 10.
Fighting back well from 14th position, Alex coped well with a mid-race Safety Car period to carve his way back through into the top 10 – eventually securing ninth place two laps from the finish to cap off a highly successful maiden weekend in the UK’s premier motor racing championship.
Rounds four, five and six of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place three weeks from now, 24th/25th April, at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.
Television highlights of this weekend’s action at Thruxton will be screened across the UK throughout the coming week on ITV1, ITV4 and Men and Motors. Please check listings for full details.