Alex MacDowall News



Barwell Motorsport’s Alex MacDowall, Sandy Mitchell, Sam De Haan and Ahmad Al Harthy experienced a frustrating retirement from the biggest GT3 race of the season, the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, during the small hours on Sunday, 31st July, due to an unidentified mechanical issue.

Everything had begun so impressively for the No.77 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 after the quartet combined to deliver the Gold Cup class pole position in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps, and a strong opening to the race on Saturday afternoon from Mitchell got things off on a perfect footing.

Incredibly though, little more than half an hour into the twice-round-the-clock contest, a luckless puncture derailed the squad’s challenge for a podium finish in round three of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup – although Mitchell did make it back to the pits.

Carlisle’s MacDowall got behind the wheel for his first stint, the team altering its planned schedule of driver changes in the hope it would prove beneficial later in the race, and he delivered a strong stint trying to recover as much time and ground as possible.

Working through the various pit-stops cycles, more incident impacted the team on Saturday evening when one of the Mercedes-AMG entries tagged De Haan and pitched him into a spin but he was able to continue without too much drama. Around midnight Mitchell was back into sixth in Gold and MacDowall then produced a great stint to move up into fourth in class – before another puncture.

Racing was halted with a red flag stoppage around 02.00 local time when the No.16 Porsche made contact with the barriers at Blanchimont but, following repairs, the action re-started. MacDowall was still behind the wheel of the Barwell Lamborghini and, soon after the resumption, he reported contact from another car but did continue.

As night became day and the sunrise appeared over the Ardennes, Al Harthy embarked on his first morning stint and ran good pace but then, incredibly, a mechanical issue with the engine resulted in retirement from the race.

“We were just unfortunate, nothing we could do about the punctures or the engine problem which meant we retired – and we still don’t know why the engine failed”, explained MacDowall, “Sandy [Mitchell] got us into a good position from pole, he was looking really strong, and we don’t know if it was debris that caused his puncture or something else.

“It was a crazy race, lots of punctures and people just bashing into each other – it shouldn’t be like that in an endurance race, especially a 24 hour race. We were working our way back up the order and doing a good job, everyone in the team had good pace, and Ahmad [Al Harthy] was really good as the Bronze driver, he was quick straight away and got dialled-in to the Lamborghini really well.”

MacDowall added: “We definitely had the line-up to get a podium, I don’t know about the win as it’s not just about pace and performance at Spa. You need the luck, timing, you need the Safety Cars to go your way, the strategy, there is so much that has to work in your favour. It’s a real shame as we had a good opportunity to get a strong result.”

Pre-event build-up throughout the week in Belgium had gone very well for the Barwell drivers, the highlight being third fastest in Gold during free practice on Thursday, 28th July, and in qualifying later in the day the team-mates laid down a marker by storming to the Gold class pole position – based on the average time taken from each driver’s respective best across four individual sessions.

Realistically going into the 24 Hour race with a very strong chance of their first Gold Cup podium of the 2022 season, it wasn’t to be sadly but MacDowall is now looking ahead to the fourth round of the campaign where he, and Barwell, hope to put their misfortune behind them.

“It’s been a bit of a messy season for us unfortunately and we don’t know who will join me and Sandy for the next round as the third driver, but hopefully we can have a strong run and finally get the sort of result we deserve from the pace we’ve shown”, he added.

Round four of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup season will take place over the weekend 3rd/4th September at the Hockenheimring in Germany.

2022 GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup – Gold Cup Standings (after Rd3)
10th Alex MacDowall/Sandy Mitchell, 20pts


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