Chevrolet's MacDowall third in Independents points after Marrakech
Carlisle’s Alex MacDowall added to his 2013 Yokohama Independents Trophy podium tally with third in class during the first of the weekend’s two FIA World Touring Car Championship races in Morocco on Sunday, 7th April – helping him maintain a top three placing in the Independents points.
But despite having shown fantastic pace throughout the weekend, including posting the fastest lap in round three on his way to sixth overall and third in class, the 22-year-old Chevrolet Cruze driver didn’t have the best of fortune on his return to Marrakech street circuit. He did, though, consider himself to be “very lucky” to emerge unscathed from a frightening incident in raceday warm-up.
Race one was the clear highlight, Alex maintaining his overall sixth place starting slot – third in the Independents Trophy – and getting involved in a great battle with reigning WTCC Champion Rob Huff and multiple title winner Yvan Muller.
Following a lengthy Safety Car period midway through, required to retrieve the stricken car of Tiago Monteiro, racing resumed for two final laps and there was absolutely nothing in it between Muller, Huff and Alex, just 0.2 seconds splitting the trio at the chequered flag.
Lining-up fifth on the ‘reverse’ grid for round four, the Bamboo Engineering racer wasn’t able to make the getaway he wanted and slipped to eighth before concluding lap one in seventh, although second in the Independents Trophy.
Running tight behind the Honda of Gabriele Tarquini, and on course for another big points haul in the Independents in addition to fastest class lap, Alex piled on the pressure and on lap eight the Italian made a mistake by clipping the kerbs too heavily. The end result, though, was contact with Alex’s Chevrolet which sandwiched him into the retaining wall – both cars retiring on the spot.
“We were doing well in free practice, I was third in FP2 and happy with that”, said the Briton, “In qualifying though the brakes just didn’t seem the same, I didn’t have the confidence and when that happens, you lose your rhythm a bit. We had a lot of traffic too which didn’t help, I pitted early for my tyre change and when I was going onto my flying lap I caught the others warming their tyres up.
“Qualifying didn’t show our true pace but race one was good, we didn’t gain anything but we didn’t lose anything either so it was good points scored. The [Gabriele] Tarquini incident in race two though was unavoidable, nothing more you can say. We know we’ve got the pace, we proved that, we just needed things to go our way a bit more this weekend.”
While disappointed to have missed out on another strong points score in round four, through no fault of his own, the weekend could have quite easily ended much worse for the second year WTCC racer following the aforementioned incident during morning warm-up on Sunday.
Some form of brake problem for the SEAT of Tom Boardman resulted in the car launching over the kerbs at Turn Seven, rocketing the car across the path of Alex’s Chevrolet. Fortuitously, the impact was with the bonnet and not the driver’s side door…
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw [Tom] Boardman’s car come flying across”, reflected Alex, “He hit the sausage kerb and that launched him over my bonnet – without that he was heading for me, the driver’s side. It’s very lucky he hit the kerb otherwise it doesn’t bear thinking about. It’s been a mixed weekend but there are still 20 races to go, that’s a lot of races and a lot of points to be had.”
Alex will be back in action three weeks from now, on 27th/28th April, when the FIA World Touring Car Championship visits the Slovakia Ring near Bratislava for rounds five and six of the 2013 season.
2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd4):
8th Alex MacDowall, 26pts
2013 FIA WTCC Yokohama Independents Trophy Driver Standings (after Rd4):
3rd Alex MacDowall, 20pts