Chevrolet ace MacDowall second quickest in Snetterton testing
Following a break of almost five weeks since he was last behind the wheel of his Chevrolet Cruze touring car, BTCC rookie Alex MacDowall quickly got back into the swing of things at Snetterton on Thursday, 22nd July, with a superb top two performance during officially timed testing.
The 1.95-mile Norfolk track will host the curtain-raiser to the second half of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season a fortnight from now, 7th/8th August, and on the strength of this week’s fantastic test performance the 19-year-old stands every possible chance of success.
During the first three hours of running, Carlisle-based Alex was the fastest of the 16 drivers in attendance with a best lap of 1m11.958 seconds (97.65mph). In dry conditions, the Silverline Chevrolet driver completed a total of 41 laps and edged out experienced racer Paul O’Neill by just 0.013 seconds, while Chevrolet team-mate Jason Plato was a mere 0.003 seconds further adrift.
Heavy rain over the course of the lunchbreak led to an extremely wet track for the afternoon session so, bearing in mind the heightened risk of damaging the car pushing hard in such conditions, Alex only concentrated on practicing wet-weather starts.
An unfortunate problem with his engine did lead to an early conclusion to the day but with the track not drying out until the final half hour or so of running, the multiple ELF Renault Clio Cup race winner was completely satisfied with his day’s performance.
Team Aon Ford Focus driver Tom Chilton managed to better Alex’s morning time during the closing minutes of the second session – when the Cumbrian wasn’t on track – so he closed out the test a still very impressive second fastest overall.
“We were very pleased to be quickest during the morning session, everything went well and the pace was good but it was very close”, said the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star, “The track was really wet in the afternoon so there was no point taking any risks, especially as the first session went so well, so I just practiced some starts. All in all, I was really happy with the day.”
Having shown outstanding pace since he debuted in the BTCC at the beginning of the season, Alex is hungry for his maiden victory in touring cars and has very high hopes of challenging for a win during the Snetterton triple-header two weeks from now.
His best chance of success so far came at Oulton Park in Cheshire in early June when a driveshaft failure, while leading round 12, resulted in retirement. With a potential win snatched from his grasp Alex was rightly disappointed but as he has proven at every track he’s visited this year, he’s one of the BTCC’s most talented young stars.
“I really want to try and qualify on the first two rows at Snetterton to give ourselves the best chance of fighting for a win”, said Alex, “We qualified in the top four at the previous two events so that has to be the aim again. It’s been good to be back in the car after such a long break and to have been so quick was great. The Fords will be really fast but I think we can definitely challenge for the podium.”
Rounds 16, 17 and 18 of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place over the weekend 7th/8th August at Snetterton. As ever, all three raceday encounters will be screened live in the UK on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channel ITV4.
2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship driver standings:
1st Matt Neal, 119pts; 13th Alex MacDowall, 35pts