WTCC rookie MacDowall relishing Suzuka challenge
Chevrolet Cruze driver Alex MacDowall aims to break into the coveted top three in the Yokohama Independents Trophy points standings this coming weekend, 20th/21st October, when the FIA World Touring Car Championship arrives in Japan for rounds 19 and 20 of the season.
Marking the Carlisle WTCC rookie’s first ever visit to the Far East, and therefore maiden experience of the 2.2-kilometre Suzuka East Circuit, the 10th race meeting of the season will be yet another fresh challenge for Alex – and one he is seriously looking forward to.
Arriving in Japan fourth in the Independents driver standings, a mere six points shy of third place, the Bamboo Engineering racer is brimming with confidence at the moment off the back of two highly successful race meetings in Brazil and America.
With a best result of second in class, sixth overall, during the first of two races at Curitiba, followed up by a double Independents Trophy podium at Sonoma in California, the 21-year-old has now taken a total of seven class podiums during the course of the year – including, of course, one victory from the sixth event of the season at Salzburgring in Austria.
“I think Suzuka will be a good track for us again”, said Alex, “The Cruze was strong around there last year with full success ballast and it often rains in Japan. Racing in the wet is one of my strong points so that could work well for us if the weather is like that, whenever it has rained in the past I’ve always qualified on pole so I’m hoping it will be wet next weekend.
“I’ve been working really hard with my engineer Nick [Clipson] and we’re happy we’ve got a good set-up now which we really like. The last two rounds, in Brazil and America, have been our strongest which shows the work we’ve been doing is correct and making a positive difference.”
With six races remaining in the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship, including a double-points awarding finale at Macau, Alex can still mathematically win the Yokohama Independents Trophy but his focus is realistically on battling for the Vice-Champion’s position and best of the rookies.
“My aim is get into the top three in the Independents championship by the end of the weekend, and close the gap to second which is my goal for the end of the season”, he added, “I’m really hoping for another strong run at the weekend and with the long straight at Suzuka, which should play into the Chevy’s hands, we’ve got a good chance for some more great results.”
Following a single half-hour test session at Suzuka on Friday, 19th October, two free practice sessions will take place on Saturday, 20th October, ahead of qualifying at 15.30 local time (06.30 UK time). On Sunday, 21st October, round 19 will get underway at 14.35 (05.35 UK time) with round 20 scheduled to start at 15.50 (06.50 UK time).
Qualifying and both races will be screened live on the Eurosport network , across digital satellite and cable platforms, and the action will also be available online through the Eurosport Player service. Visit www.eurosportplayer.co.uk for details.
2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd18):
1st Norbert Michelisz, 134pts; 4th Alex MacDowall, 79pts
2012 FIA WTCC ‘Yokohama Independents Trophy’ Driver Standings (after Rd18):
1st Yvan Muller, 315pts; 10th Alex MacDowall, 52pts