Alex MacDowall News



Alex MacDowall was unlucky to miss out on his first Gold Cup class podium of the 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup season at Circuit Paul Ricard on Saturday, 4th June, when a series of luckless events undid a realistic top three bid in the annual six-hour race.

Quick in qualifying and race conditions, the former Silver Cup Champion was very happy with his pace and performance throughout the second event of the GTWCE Endurance campaign but had to settle, along with team-mates Sandy Mitchell and Rob Collard, for sixth in the Gold Cup instead.

When Collard was taken ill at the end of the opening hour of action, requiring a visit to the circuit medical centre, the Barwell Motorsport team had to initiate a change to the strategy but the entry still looked on course to mount a bid for a top two or three class finish.

Unfortunately, a mis-timed pit-stop at the end of hour two – which occurred as the Safety Car headed onto track – meant when MacDowall handed over the No.77 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to Mitchell the latter was trapped at the end of the pitlane with the pits closed until racing resumed.

“We were just unfortunate this weekend”, reflected MacDowall, “It’s frustrating to miss out on the podium, as second or third was definitely achievable, but it wasn’t to be. Rob [Collard] made a good start, using all his touring car experience to get through all the trouble, but when he got to the end of his stint he was really unwell – we don’t know if it was the heat or something he’d eaten earlier.

“I drove a really good stint, set the fastest Gold Cup lap at that point, and the car felt a lot better than it did at Imola. The team has done a lot of work since the first round, developing the car on the new tyre, and it has all paid dividends. The team worked to keep me going through the Full Course Yellow to extend my stint and try and cut Rob’s driving time for later on, but pitted me too late.”

He added: “The Safety Car came out and so Sandy [Mitchell] was stuck at the end of the pitlane at the red lights. If we’d gone one lap before we would’ve been OK, but that’s motor racing sometimes and how things can work out with tight decisions.”

MacDowall was the quickest of all three team-mates during final qualifying on Saturday morning, having prepared strongly in free practice and pre-qualifying. Taking to the track for the third and final session in the grid-determining period, he posted a best lap of 1m54.871 seconds.

Taking the average of Mitchell’s best time in the opening run, Collard’s from session two and, of course MacDowall’s from the last run, the trio secured seventh fastest in the Gold Cup class – just a smidgen over 0.3 seconds shy of the class top three – and 34th overall on the 54-car grid.

Collard began the race and made a great start, gaining six places in the overall order and moving up into the Gold top four. Although slipping back around the half-hour mark to sixth in class and 33rd overall, Collard did again make some progress before pitting at the end of the hour from Silver fifth.

No sooner had Collard departed the car to hand over to MacDowall, though, he was overcome by sickness and had to be transferred to the medical centre. MacDowall, meanwhile, set off for the second hour and when the order settled he was sixth in Gold before soon taking fifth.

Lapping very quickly, setting the Gold Cup pace, he passed a number of cars and climbed through to third in class and 22nd position overall. Roughly 15 minutes before the end of the second hour, though, a Full Course Yellow period was called due to a stricken car in the barriers at Turn 10.

The team wanted to keep MacDowall on track, rather than pitting under the FCY, in order to reduce the driving time left for Collard later in the race – with it still unknown whether he would be well enough to return to the car. Sadly, the decision didn’t work in their favour as when MacDowall was given the order to pit, from the Gold lead and outright top 15, the Safety Car was deployed.

As a result, when Mitchell prepared to leave the pits for hour three he had to wait at the red lights at the end of pitlane. Losing huge time and track position, when racing resumed Mitchell was eighth in Gold and 37th overall. Climbing to second in class before handing the car back to MacDowall in hour four, the Cumbrian did likewise to pit early in hour five from second in class and 17th overall.

Mitchell then returned to the driving seat and held fourth in class just inside the outright top 20, before handing the car back to a largely recovered Collard for the final portion of the race. He went on to take the chequered flag at midnight French time in sixth position in Gold, 22nd overall.

“We didn’t get the result we should have, which is a shame, but the car felt really good and I’m looking forward to Spa now”, said MacDowall, “I think we can go to the 24 hour feeling very positive, and definitely try to challenge for the podium there.”

The TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, the biggest GT3 race in the world, will take place over the weekend 30th/31st July, at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Before then, Spa will host a two-day official test session on Tuesday, 21st June, and Wednesday, 22nd June.

2022 GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup – Gold Cup Standings (after Rd2)
9th Alex MacDowall/Sandy Mitchell/Rob Collard, 11pts


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