Hat-Trick of points scores for MacDowall at Donington
Alex MacDowall ended the second event of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park over the weekend, 16th/17th April, satisfied with the end result after taking three points scoring finishes and coming close to making his first visit of the season to the podium.
Putting the disappointment of two non-scores at Brands Hatch a fortnight ago firmly behind him, the 20-year-old Cumbrian knew rounds four, five and six of the campaign would be a tough prospect for the Silverline Chevrolet team but he came through strongly to end the event ninth in the standings.
The highlight of the weekend for Alex was a reverse grid pole position start for the third and final race on Sunday afternoon and although a podium finish did look possible, in the end the dominance of the turbo-powered cars made the difference once again.
Losing out significantly on the fast straights and sweeps of Donington’s National Circuit, the BRDC Superstar’s normally-aspirated Chevrolet Cruze just wasn’t able to compete on a level-footing. Even so, Alex remains confident his, and the RML run team’s, time will come.
“It’s impossible to keep ahead of the turbo cars, the advantage they have is massive but we did the best we could with what we have this weekend”, he commented, “You really have to drive out of your zone to try and keep the turbos back and to then try and keep up with them when they pass, which you can’t prevent on the straights.
“We definitely need more equalisation between the normally aspirated cars and the turbos but that will take time. We’ve taken some good points away though this weekend, so there are definitely some positives for us. As always, the team did a fantastic job.”
As the quickest non-turbo runner in both free practice sessions on Saturday morning, Carlisle based Alex aimed to carry that through to qualifying but just missed out to team-mate Jason Plato with the pair eighth and ninth fastest respectively.
Slipping to 10th at the start of round four after getting a bit too much wheelspin off the line, he instantly battled back and moved into the top eight on the run down through Hollywood and the daunting Craner Curves.
Running in a tightly packed four-car train, Alex tried to get ahead of Rob Collard’s BMW into Redgate on lap three but the latter’s defence compromised Alex’s exit. From there, he was pushed wide at McLeans later on the very same lap to slip to 12th but he fought back to secure a top 10 finish which, post-race, became ninth following the exclusion of Gordon Shedden from the results.
For round five, Alex lined up ninth on the grid by virtue of his finishing position in the opening race but this became eighth when Tom Boardman pitted with a problem at the end of the green flag formation lap. Pushed down to ninth again out of Hollywood, the racing soon came under Safety Car conditions following a horror smash for team-mate Jason Plato who emerged, thankfully, unscathed.
Running in ninth place at the re-start, the former Renault Clio Cup race winner did climb as high as seventh prior to a second Safety Car period but during the final stages he slipped to ninth again after being pipped on the line by Tony Gilham’s turbo-powered Vauxhall Vectra.
For round six, Alex was drawn as the reverse grid pole-sitter and although his start wasn’t the best he did manage to hold the lead through Redgate as all manner of chaos ensued behind. After a three lap Safety Car period, the Chevrolet racer made a good re-start but he was powerless to keep the turbo Ford Focus of Mat Jackson behind.
Then slipping to third on the 11th tour, hopes of a podium faded soon after when he was passed by turbo Vectra runner James Nash. Although disappointed to miss out on the podium, three points scores have helped kick-start the season.
Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire will host the next event on the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship calendar with rounds seven, eight and nine scheduled to take place just two weeks from now over the weekend 30th April/1st May.
Provisional 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Standings (after Rd6):
1st James Nash, 59pts; 9th Alex MacDowall, 19pts