Three points finishes lift MacDowall into BTCC top eight
Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship racer Alex MacDowall has moved into the top eight of the driver standings following the third race meeting of the 2011 season at Thruxton – the Silverline Chevrolet driver notching up points finishes in all three races on Sunday, 1st May.
Recording a best result of seventh place in round eight, and with it a bonus point for the fastest lap of the race – a time of 1m19.195 seconds (107.09mph), the 20-year-old from Carlisle also scored for 10th place in round seven and then rounded-off the event with an eighth position in round nine.
Alex’s weekend was made all the harder by illness, having felt extremely unwell during the build-up to the race meeting and being placed on a course of antibiotics. To come through so strongly, and to be the highest finishing driver of a normally-aspirated car in the first and last races, is a great fillip for the Cumbrian as the championship calendar heads into a five-week break.
“It’s good to have scored in all three races this weekend”, said the BRDC Superstar, “Qualifying was really tough and we had to work very hard in the races but the team did a great job as always and we were able to grind out some good results.”
Qualifying with the 11th fastest time, some 1.6 seconds off pole position but only half a second shy of the third row, Alex didn’t get away from the line as he would have liked at the start of round seven and slipped to 12th behind the very rapid rear-wheel drive BMW of Robert Collard.
Running in 12th place up until lap seven, he got good drive out of Church and Brooklands to be in a position to get alongside Collard into Club Chicane. Timing his move well, Alex grabbed 11th place back and began to close on the turbo-powered Vauxhall Vectra of Jeff Smith ahead.
Unfortunately, team-mate Jason Plato had an accident at the chicane following a puncture on the 14th tour so this promoted Alex into the top 10 and he remained there to the flag a couple of laps later, finishing just 0.3 seconds behind Smith.
Beginning round eight from 10th on the grid, due to his placing in the opening encounter, Alex got into the top eight by lap two and ran strongly ahead of Plato in the sister Chevrolet Cruze as the race entered lap nine. The next time around at the chicane, unfortunate contact with Collard resulted in an excursion for the BMW and so Alex moved up into seventh where he stayed to the finish.
The final race of the day began with a third place start for Alex, due to the top nine finishers from round eight being ‘reversed’, but at the start he wasn’t able to make the most of the second row slot as he slipped to fifth into Allard. Contact from the Ford Focus of Tom Chilton into the complex thankfully didn’t lead to any further loss of position ahead of a Safety Car period on lap six.
After the re-start Alex was under massive pressure from the turbo Honda Civics but he served up some tremendous defence through the complex and Noble. The greater pace and power of the Hondas though meant it would only be a matter of time before they made their way past.
Losing out to both Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden, Alex also had to drop behind the turbo Vectra of Andrew Jordan on lap 10 but he valiantly held on to eighth and actually filled Jordan’s mirrors during the closing laps, finishing just 0.3 seconds adrift at the flag.
“Obviously, we want to be back in the mix at the front for the podiums but the turbos still have a big advantage and we needed a bit more luck this weekend to make that happen”, said Alex, “Hopefully at Oulton Park during the next round the Cruze will be able to come into its own.”
Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season will take place at Cheshire’s Oulton Park Island Circuit over the weekend 4th/5th June.
Provisional 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Standings (after Rd9):
1st Matt Neal, 90pts; 8th Alex MacDowall, 28pts