Fifth Independents podium of season for MacDowall in Brazil
Bamboo Engineering driver Alex MacDowall starred on his first ever visit to Curitiba in Brazil over the weekend, 21st/22nd July, with his fifth class podium of the season helping him climb back into the top four of the FIA World Touring Car Championship’s Yokohama Independents Trophy standings.
Immediately on the pace during pre-event testing and practice, the 21-year-old from Carlisle was the fastest of the Independent runners in two of the three sessions and never out of the overall top six as he impressively challenged the dominance of the ‘works’ Chevrolet drivers.
During qualifying, Alex needed just one flying lap to progress into the all-important second session and only the smallest of errors on his second run in the final part of qualifying prevented a potential top four start overall – instead he had to settle for sixth and second in the Independents Trophy.
Anticipating the rolling start to round 15 well, the WTCC rookie held position and pressured the sister Chevrolet Cruze of Michel Nykjaer – replacing unwell team regular Pasquale Di Sabatino – as the race wore on.
At mid-distance, just 0.3 seconds separated the team-mates as Alex piled on the pressure and also pulled well clear of the chasing pack. Not wishing to risk any rash overtaking moves though, mindful of the tight turn-around time of less than an hour between races, the Cumbrian settled for second in class and sixth overall. He also set the fastest Independent lap of 1m24.360 seconds (97.97mph).
Expecting more of the same in round 16, where he lined up fifth overall and third Independent on the ‘reverse’ grid, a sluggish getaway to the standing start as the car bogged down relegated Alex to 14th position but such was his pace he was able to mount a sterling recovery.
Following a brief Safety Car period he started to make progress and by lap nine Alex was into the overall top 10 before claiming ninth two laps later. Although slipping a couple of positions before the finish, behind the SEATs of Tiago Monteiro and Aleksei Dudukalo, he recorded a creditable 11th place overall and fifth in class. He also only just missed fastest Independents lap by less than 0.1 seconds.
“Overall it’s been a great weekend, we were quick from the first session on Friday and definitely showed we’ve closed the pace to the works cars”, commented Alex, “We thought we’d be in good shape at Curitiba and it all worked out quite well.
“Race one was good, we were really competitive, set the fastest Indy lap and moved into fourth in the championship so I was really happy with that. Unfortunately the start of race two really cost us, the car just bogged down off the line and nearly everyone went past but I managed to get back to finish fifth in the Independents so that’s not bad.”
The FIA World Touring Car Championship now takes a lengthy nine week break from competition ahead of its inaugural visit to the United States. Infineon Raceway, formerly known as Sears Point, in California will host the ninth event of the WTCC season over the weekend 22nd/23rd September.
2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd16):
1st Yvan Muller, 287pts; 13th Alex MacDowall, 36pts
2012 FIA WTCC ‘Yokohama Independents Trophy’ Driver Standings (after Rd16):
1st Norbert Michelisz, 111pts; 4th Alex MacDowall, 63pts