WTCC star MacDowall pleased with first foray into rear-wheel drive
Front-running FIA World Touring Car Championship driver Alex MacDowall says he is pleased with his first real foray into rear-wheel drive racing following his second outing in the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup at a rain-hit Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 12th/13th October.
Having been presented with a potential opportunity to dovetail his WTCC commitments with a ‘works’ programme in the Super GT Championship in Asia, the 22-year-old first needed to gain experience in rear-wheel drive having spent his entire career to date in front-wheel drive saloons.
Thanks to a natural six-week gap in the WTCC calendar, Alex has been able to race in the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup during its final two events of the year – at Silverstone last month and Brands Hatch this past weekend – and the knowledge gained of rear-wheel drive has, he says, been vital.
“It’s been good to get some experience, especially in the conditions we had this weekend”, he commented, “It’s been good to see how the car handles in the dry and in the rain. The chassis, tyre performance and handling couldn’t be more different to what I’m used to and I’ve basically had to throw away all of my front-wheel drive set-up knowledge and adapt my driving technique which has been hugely challenging, but great fun.
“The car has been doing pretty much what I thought, you’ve got to roll a bit more speed in to the corners in a rear-wheel drive rather than stop and get the exit like you have to in the Chevy Cruze I drive in World Touring Cars.”
He continued: “It’s more about rolling in and picking the throttle up, that’s something I’ve been working on, and heel and toe on the downshift is crucial in the Ginetta G55 which isn’t a factor in the Cruze. All in all I’m happy with the pace we found which was pretty good compared to my team-mates.”
Linking back up with the Total Control Racing squad, which took him to the Vice-Champion’s position in the 2009 Renault UK Clio Cup prior to his graduation into touring cars, Alex has delivered a series of strong performances across both events.
At Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit this weekend, in the dry first race on Saturday, he was within just 0.1 seconds of team-mate and 2012 champion Carl Breeze. In the challenging wet weather he was just half a second away – encouraging speed and performance from a rear-wheel drive novice.
“It normally takes you half a season to get your head around the change from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel, and in the conditions we’ve had at Brands Hatch it’s been important to keep the car on the track as much as anything”, said Alex.
“After so many years in front-wheel drive, you instinctively do things that way. As well as learning how to drive the car, the different techniques, it’s been good to get knowledge of the set-up and how the car feels in different conditions. The experience I’ve gained in the Ginetta has definitely been valuable.”
Alex will return to FIA World Touring Car Championship duty on 2nd/3rd November at Shanghai International Circuit in China when the penultimate two races of the 2013 season, rounds 21 and 22, take place.