Outright and class podium glory for MacDowall in Hungary
Chevrolet Cruze racer Alex MacDowall enjoyed a successful visit to the Hungaroring near Budapest over the weekend, 4th/5th May, by taking the second outright FIA World Touring Car Championship podium of his career as well as a brace of rostrum finishes in the Yokohama Independents Trophy.
Moving up into second place in the Independents title battle, a mere six points shy of the lead, the Carlisle driver also climbed into the overall championship top eight on a weekend when he squeezed every last bit of performance from his Bamboo Engineering-run car.
Just a week removed from his Independents Trophy class winning performance in Slovakia, Alex was able to continue his front-running momentum and qualified third fastest in class – 10th overall – for the first race of the weekend, round seven.
Making a good start to the opening encounter, the 22-year-old immediately gained two places to move into eighth, second in the Independents Trophy, and thereafter he maintained position to the finish on lap 12 despite intense pressure.
Seeing off the identical Chevrolets of team-mate James Nash and Danish driver Michel Nykjaer, Alex drove the wheels off his Cruze and, in doing so, just missed out on posting the fastest Independents lap of the race with a time of 1m56.651 seconds – only 0.016 seconds shy.
By virtue of the ‘reverse grid’ format for the second race, round eight, Alex lined-up on the outright pole position but slipped to third after a difficult getaway. Racing then fell under a cautionary period before the end of lap one when the Safety Car was deployed, following a major accident involving Gabriele Tarquini and Franz Engstler.
When the action resumed on lap five Alex maintained his position, third overall and second in class, and again fended off Nash for the duration to secure the second outright WTCC podium of his career with a very well judged performance.
“It’s good to come away from this weekend with two Independents podiums, as well as the overall one”, commented Alex, “In the first race we gained some ground and I was trying as hard as I could, there was no extra pace to come from the car though – I gave it everything we had.
“It would have been nice to convert the pole position in race two into a win, I didn’t make the best of starts and just couldn’t keep with the front two. Then the tyres went off towards the end so it was all about keeping the others behind and maximising what we had. Overall it’s been a good weekend, we’ve closed the gap right down in the Independents championship so I’m pleased about that.”
Alex will be back in action in the WTCC a fortnight from now when the category makes its annual visit to the Salzburgring in Austria – the scene of his maiden Yokohama Independents Trophy race victory last year – over the weekend 18th/19th May.
2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd8):
8th Alex MacDowall, 53pts
2013 FIA WTCC Yokohama Independents Trophy Driver Standings (after Rd8):
2nd Alex MacDowall, 53pts