MacDowall salvages points from robust Croft weekend
Silverline Chevrolet’s Alex MacDowall survived three very robust Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire on Sunday, 20th June, to secure a brace of hard-fought points scoring finishes.
Concluding the weekend’s action 13th overall in the driver standings, the Carlisle rookie’s ‘home’ event didn’t provide the results he’d hoped for but he did well to salvage a pair of top 10 finishes in the face of some pretty forceful contact.
Beginning the weekend strongly, Alex progressed well through both free practice sessions before posting the fourth fastest time in qualifying with a lap of 1m25.157 seconds (89.83mph) – just half a second away from pole position.
Making a decent start to round 13, Alex ran in the top four until lap four when he slipped to fifth behind Tom Onslow-Cole’s rapid Ford Focus at Clervaux. Just two laps later though, he went back through to fourth place after a moment for Onslow-Cole at the complex and then ably kept former champions Jason Plato and Matt Neal behind.
On lap 10 at Sunny In though, Alex’s Chevrolet Cruze ran slightly wide as his tyres started to lose adhesion and both Plato and Neal made their way past to push the Cumbrian down to sixth. This marked the start of major grip problems for Alex and after getting boxed out by a gaggle of cars at the hairpin on lap 12, he eventually finished in 13th place.
Round 14 produced more in the way of contact, this time after unfortunately clipping a tyre stack at the chicane which caused substantial damage to the front-end of Alex’s car. Thankfully able to continue, the 19-year-old British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star worked his way into a ninth place finish to secure a couple of championship points.
In the last of the three encounters, Alex recorded his second top 10 result of the weekend with a determined drive. Contact from Neal two-thirds of the way through the race didn’t help Alex’s cause but he came through to take 10th place from another bruising outing.
“Race one put us on the back foot really”, said Alex, “We ran with a different set-up to Jason (Plato), I had a tighter differential on the car but that works the tyres a bit harder. After about five or six laps I kept running wide and missing apexes and then I received quite a bit of contact too. It was quite rough out there in all of the races really, at least we took a few points away.
“It’s not been the weekend I’d hoped for, especially after things started well with a top four in qualifying, so I’m aiming for much more at Snetterton after the summer break. We’ve had good straight-line speed this weekend so that bodes well for Snetterton and we have an official test day coming up so hopefully we can have a good run and prepare well.”
Following the lengthy seven week break which now takes place, rounds 16, 17 and 18 of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will be held at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk over the weekend 7th/8th August.
2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship driver standings:
1st Matt Neal, 119pts; 13th Alex MacDowall, 35pts