Qualifying critical for Donington says MacDowall
Silverline Chevrolet driver Alex MacDowall aims to start his season afresh at Donington Park National Circuit next weekend, 16th/17th April, when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship rolls into the parkland East Midlands track for the second event of 2011.
After a robust curtain-raiser at Brands Hatch less than seven days ago, from which the Carlisle racer was disappointed with some of the judicial decisions which went his way, Alex is focused on putting it all behind him during rounds four, five and six.
Starting the opening weekend off with a fine fifth place finish in the first encounter, the 20-year-old was later handed a points penalty on his racing licence for what he adamantly deems unintentional lap one contact with the Honda Civic of former double BTCC champion Matt Neal.
In round two he was given a somewhat harsh jump-start penalty, which prevented any chance of a podium finish, and then in the last race he received a post-race time penalty following contact while battling his way through the order. Eighth in the championship as he left Brands Hatch, following the penalties Alex unfortunately slipped to ninth place in the standings.
All in all a very trying start to the 2011 campaign for the Chevrolet Cruze pilot, but for the next event at Donington Park he is committed to securing three strong race results and getting his season fully on track.
“These things happen, Brands Hatch was tough but I’m just looking ahead to Donington now”, said the BRDC Superstar, “I think we’ll still have the strongest package out of the non-turbo cars but, for sure, the Hondas and the rest of the turbo cars will suit the track.
“Our Cruze has a great chassis and good brakes, which can make up time on the turbos, but the problem we’ve got is there are two long straights at Donington and an uphill section too which will favour the others. I know I’m one of the best at qualifying though and a good grid slot is critical.”
From the opening event at Brands Hatch the turbo-powered cars have a clear advantage in terms of straight-line speed over the S2000 specification Chevrolets of Alex and team-mate Jason Plato, but if both can work well together during qualifying the Cumbrian is sure they can secure good grid slots.
He said: “It’s a lot easier to defend from the turbos than to try and overtake them so we really do need to qualify well. I think if me and Jason can tow each other around, which we used to good effect last year, it could help in qualifying. At the moment I just need to focus on trying to beat my team-mate as much as I can. JP has the same machinery as I do so he is the true benchmark.”
After two free practice sessions on Saturday, 16th April, qualifying for the fourth round of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place at 15.20. The first race will commence at 11.35 on Sunday, 17th April, with round five following at 14.25 and round six beginning at 17.15.
As ever, each race will be screened live on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4, on the ITV4 HD channel and online at www.itv.com/touringcars - the ITV website will also stream live feed from the qualifying session at 15.20 on the Saturday.