Driveshaft failure robs MacDowall of potential BTCC win
Alex MacDowall saw his hopes of a maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race win slip through his fingers at Oulton Park in Cheshire on Sunday, 6th June, when a driveshaft failure forced him out of the 12th round of the season while leading.
Starting the third race of the weekend from pole position, the Silverline Chevrolet racer led away well on lap one and following a two lap Safety Car period he once again pressed home an advantage at the front.
Judging the lap four re-start well, Alex looked very comfortable leading a BTCC race for the first time in his short career but as he headed out of the hairpin on the run up to Hilltop, his Chevrolet Cruze dramatically slowed and it was soon apparent the problem was a driveshaft failure.
Bitterly disappointed to have been forced out of round 12 having done everything right, the 19-year-old was nonetheless happy with his performance and buoyed by the tremendous pace he displayed over the course of the two days at Oulton Park.
“Obviously I’m gutted to have been forced out, especially while leading”, said Alex, “That’s the way it goes sometimes though. We’ve had fantastic pace this weekend, the team gave me a great car and I was really happy with my performance. It’s a real shame we couldn’t convert our pace into a podium this weekend but hopefully we can carry it forward to the next three rounds at Croft in two weeks.”
Showing fantastic pace from the off during free practice on Saturday, 5th June, the Carlisle-based racer was more than a match for the championship’s top drivers and in qualifying for round 10 he proved as much with the fourth fastest time of 1m27.399 seconds (91.68mph) – a mere 0.069 seconds away from pole position and just 0.010 seconds behind team-mate Jason Plato.
In the first race, Alex managed to hold on to fourth at the start but got pushed back to fifth at the hairpin by Robert Collard’s BMW 320si. Running well, he was then forced wide onto the grass at Lodge Corner at the end of lap eight by Mat Jackson and slipped to seventh. Losing out to Steven Kane six laps later, Alex moved back into seventh three laps from the end when Plato went off.
Lining up seventh on the grid for round 11, the Cumbrian lost some ground through Cascades and then his race took a major turn for the worse when Collard was pitched into a spin at the hairpin. With the BMW facing the wrong way in the middle of the track, Alex was unsighted as he negotiated the turn and made contact with the front of Collard’s car.
Delaying him significantly, and causing damage to the front of his Chevrolet, the 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup Vice-Champion plummeted down the order to 18th position but he mounted a tremendous fightback to carve his way into ninth place at the finish – a fantastic effort. Into 10th position behind Dave Pinkney’s Vauxhall Vectra on the last lap, Alex pipped him by just 0.043 seconds on the line.
“In qualifying we could really have had pole position as I made a mistake in the last sector when I was on my best lap but fourth was still great”, he reflected, “The first race didn’t go quite as planned and then the contact with (Robert) Collard’s car in race two really made things difficult. Our pace has been good though, we’ve shown what we’re capable of. I want a podium at Croft!”
Alex’s ‘home’ event, rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, will take place at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire a fortnight from now over the weekend 19th/20th June.
2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship driver standings:
1st Matt Neal, 98pts; 11th Alex MacDowall, 32pts