Second Independents win of 2013 for MacDowall in Slovakia
Alex MacDowall closed to within just nine points of the Yokohama Independents Trophy lead during the third event of the FIA World Touring Car Championship season in Slovakia on Sunday, 28th April, by racing to his second class victory of the 2013 season.
Completely erasing memories of a somewhat trying visit to the Slovakia Ring 12 months ago during his maiden season in the WTCC, the Carlisle driver produced two excellent race performances this weekend at the Bratislava track to consolidate third place in the Independents Trophy standings.
Race two, round six, was the pick of the action for the 22-year-old and despite a troublesome start, which dropped him from fifth overall on the grid to 11th place, Alex remained calm and composed and began to move back through the order – taking 10th on lap four.
Into ninth on lap five, the Chevrolet Cruze driver ran in the thick of a very closely contested pack of seven cars where the slightest of errors would prove costly. Holding the Independents lead, Alex swarmed all over the back of the RML-run Chevrolet of Tom Chilton while having to keep one eye on his mirrors at all times with Mehdi Bennani’s BMW right behind.
Taking eighth overall on lap nine at the expense of the Honda of Norbert Michelisz, Alex continued to pressurise Chilton and at the chequered flag on lap 10 only 0.2 seconds separated them with only 0.5 seconds the difference to sixth placed Pepe Oriola.
“It was all action-packed at the start”, said the Cumbrian, “We didn’t make a particularly good start which put us out on the outfield into turn one – that wasn’t great. From then on, everyone was struggling with cold tyres and we picked a few off on that lap. Then it was quite a dog fight to the end but I caught the leaders quite quickly. It’s great to win again, just what we needed.”
In round five, Alex lined-up sixth overall on the grid and with the Independents Trophy pole position thanks to a best lap of 2m11.422 seconds (162.21 km/h) in qualifying – a marked improvement on 2012 underlining the progress made by driver and team.
Unfortunately pushed back to ninth at the start, that made all the difference between a potential class victory and a third place Independents finish. With the racing unbelievably close, hardly any places were changed among the front-runners and after recovering into eighth overall, third in class, Alex wasn’t able to make any further inroads.
Able to pull clear of the pack behind, he pressured the Chevrolet of Michel Nykjaer and at the flag on lap 10 just 0.3 seconds separated the duo. Confirming his pace, Alex’s best lap of 2m13.845 seconds was little more than 0.1 seconds shy of the Independents Trophy fastest from Danish driver Nykjaer.
Rounds seven and eight of the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship will take place just a week from now, on 4th/5th May, at the Hungaroring in Hungary.
2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd6):
9th Alex MacDowall, 34pts
2013 FIA WTCC Yokohama Independents Trophy Driver Standings (after Rd6):
3rd Alex MacDowall, 37pts