Qualifying accident spoils MacDowall's Porto potential
Alex MacDowall rued a small, and very uncharacteristic, error during qualifying for the seventh event of the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the Circuito da Boavista street track in Porto over the weekend, 29th/30th June, which spoiled the 22-year-old’s realistic hopes of climbing the points table.
Although limited to a best result on his maiden visit to the Portuguese track of fifth in the Yokohama Independents Trophy class, 13th position overall, during round 13 on Sunday morning, the Carlisle racer did manage to maintain a top three placing in the Independents title battle.
After making good progress in free practice on Saturday, lapping seventh quickest overall in session two and second fastest of the Independents Trophy runners, qualifying went awry in the biggest possible way for Alex. On a particularly rapid lap, with 10 minutes of the session having elapsed, the smallest of errors led to a brush with the barriers and caused major damage to his Chevrolet Cruze.
Despite managing to crawl back to the pits, the severity of the impact ruled Alex out of the remainder of the session meaning he would start the first race of the weekend from a much lower than expected 21st on the grid and 10th in class.
“I bruised the barrier a couple of corners before the accident”, explained Alex, “It unsettled the car and then I was a bit offline for the next corner, in hindsight I rushed that a bit and then through the next turn I lost the back of the car and hit the barriers. There was a lot to fix on the car, the team did a fantastic job and were up until half-past three in the morning getting it all sorted for the races.”
Facing a very difficult challenge, with overtaking at a premium on the tight confines of the Porto streets, the Briton still managed to battle into 14th position overall and sixth in the Independents Trophy. Post-race, this became 13th and fifth due to a penalty for Hugo Valente. In round 14, the Bamboo Engineering driver finished in 17th place, ninth in class, from the ninth row of the grid.
“It’s so hard to get past people on a street track like Porto, even when they’re slower than you, and after the massive effort the team made after qualifying it was pointless taking any risks and ending up with more damage”, reflected Alex at the end of a frustrating weekend, “We’re still third in the Independents Trophy but we can’t keep saying that, we really need to close the gap in Argentina.”
With the Porto races marking the last of the ‘European season’ for the WTCC, the championship now heads into a five-week break with rounds 15 and 16 of the campaign set to take place on 3rd/4th August at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo in Argentina – the first ever visit of the WTCC to the Santiago del Estero track.
Provisional 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd14):
10th Alex MacDowall, 73pts
Provisional 2013 FIA WTCC Yokohama Independents Trophy Driver Standings (after Rd14):
3rd Alex MacDowall, 78pts