MacDowall aiming for Independents success as WTCC heads Stateside
Carlisle racing driver Alex MacDowall cannot wait for the resumption of the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship next weekend, 22nd/23rd September, when the high-profile series makes a return to action with its first ever visit to Sonoma in the USA after a lengthy nine week summer sojourn.
The 21-year-old WTCC rookie, who drives a 1.6-litre turbo-powered Chevrolet Cruze for Yokohama Independents Trophy squad Bamboo Engineering, really started to get into his stride during the last few events before the mid-season hiatus.
His breakthrough moment came with a maiden class victory at the Salzburgring in Austria during round 11. From there, the Cumbrian scorched to further Independents Trophy podiums in Portimao, Portugal, and at Curitiba in Brazil last time out to make it five rostrum finishes for the year.
Alex will arrive in America fourth in the Independents Trophy standings, just a dozen points behind experienced WTCC driver Stefano D’Aste in third and 48 points shy of the top of the table. Although the gap to class leader Norbert Michelisz is significant, the Briton is confident he has the ability to become an increasingly important factor in the outcome of the 2012 championship.
“We’re only 12 points off third place in the Independents Trophy and I’m sure we can try and move into that top three next weekend”, commented Alex, “My goal is still to try and win the title, we’re a way off at the moment but there will be double points on offer at Macau [the final round of 2012] and anything can happen before then.”
“I’ve been working really hard on my fitness since the last round in Brazil and I’ve been learning as much as possible about Sonoma on the simulator. I’m not sure if many of the others will have ever been to the track so it should be a level playing field from that point of view. We will be carrying maximum ballast again on the Chevys though, which will mean extra wear on the tyres.”
The visit to the Sonoma raceway in California, formerly known as Sears Point in years gone by, will mean another mammoth journey across the Atlantic for Alex. In fact, the remainder of the WTCC season is very ‘travel-heavy’ with a visit to Suzuka in Japan in October followed by races in China and Macau in November.
“I’m feeling very confident for next weekend, it’ll be great to experience another new circuit and I really think the Chevrolet should be strong”, added Alex, “It’s a fantastic car, the class of the field, so I’m looking forward to my first visit to Sonoma.”
Alex’s first experience of the Californian track will come during a brief half-hour test session on Friday, 21st September, with two further free practice runs to follow on Saturday, 22nd September, ahead of qualifying at 14.15 local time (22.15 UK time).
Both races will take place on Sunday, 23rd September, with round 17 scheduled to get underway at 12.20 local time (20.20 UK time) and round 18 set to follow at approximately 13.35 local time (21.35 UK time). Live television coverage of both races will be carried on British Eurosport – check listings for further details.
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