MacDowall Makes BTCC History At Snetterton
Cumbrian teenager Alex MacDowall etched his name into the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship record books at Snetterton over the weekend, 7th/8th August, by becoming the youngest driver in the long and storied history of the BTCC to qualify on pole position.
Producing a remarkable performance during Saturday’s wet 30-minute session, the Silverline Chevrolet driver mastered the tricky conditions to clinch his maiden touring car pole position by just 0.094 seconds from team-mate Jason Plato – making it an all Chevrolet front-row for round 16.
Aged 19 years and 197 days, the rapid Carlisle racer confirmed his undoubted potential as a BTCC star with his record breaking qualifying effort. In Sunday’s three races though, he wasn’t able to capitalise due to a catalogue of highly unfortunate problems.
Initially making a good start to the weekend’s opening encounter, round 16, Alex looked set to hold first place on the run to Riches Corner but mere yards from the grid his Chevrolet Cruze slowed dramatically due to a broken gear lever.
Crawling back to the pits, he rejoined the race a long way down on the leaders and eventually finished out of the classified positions some nine laps down after being forced to make additional visits to the pit-lane.
Starting round 17 from 19th place due to the race one finish, Alex progressed into the top 15 by lap two prior to a five lap Safety Car period and at the re-start he continued to move up the order. On the eighth tour at Riches though, contact from Lea Wood pitched Alex into a near-spin over the kerbs and after pitting with damage to the sump on lap 10, his race was over.
Hoping to end the weekend on a high in round 18, Alex lined-up 17th on the grid and again moved up the order early on but a severe vibration limited his pace. Initial thoughts of a puncture proved to be unfounded but the problem did hamper Alex’s performance and he eventually finished 13th.
“It’s been a real weekend of highs and lows”, said Alex at the conclusion, “Obviously it’s fantastic to have made some history by being the youngest ever driver to be on pole in the BTCC, it made taking pole position that bit more special. The races were unbelievable though, to have had such bad luck in all three after such a good day on Saturday was a real disappointment.
“The problem with the gear lever wasn’t anyone’s fault, it was just one of those things, and then things spiraled from there. We’ve proven we have the pace to be at the front though and it’s only a matter of time until things in the races go our way. The team is doing a fantastic job and the car is incredible to drive, we’ll all be pushing really hard for success at Silverstone.”
The next installment of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place two weeks from now, 21st/22nd August, at Silverstone National Circuit in Northamptonshire.
2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship driver standings:
1st Jason Plato, 151pts; 14th Alex MacDowall, 36pts