Alex MacDowallTotal Control Racing’s Alex MacDowall achieved his third race victory of the 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup at Snetterton in Norfolk over the weekend, 1st/2nd August, with an impressive performance in a very tricky, rain-shortened 13th round of the campaign.

The 18-year-old British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star then backed the result up with a fine fourth place in round 14 to maintain second position in the championship and also increase his advantage over the chasing pack to 44 points.

Beginning the weekend in style by claiming his seventh pole position of the year during Saturday morning’s qualifying session, the Carlisle racer produced a best lap of 1m17.872 seconds (90.23mph) while his second quickest time of 1m18.071 seconds secured another front row start for round 14.

With light rain just beginning to fall as the lights went out at the start of Saturday afternoon’s race, Alex made an excellent start to lead through Riches Corner but his efforts to pull clear of chief title rival Philip Glew were nullified at the start of lap two when the Safety Car was deployed due to an incident involving several midfield cars.

The re-start came on lap four and Alex did a great job over the next few laps to keep Glew at bay as conditions got ever trickier due to the rain falling progressively heavier. On lap 10 at the Bomb Hole, Glew made a bold move for the lead and slithered through but the next time around at the Esses, Alex hit back as Glew pushed too hard and got out of shape on the slippery track.

Remaining at the front as the rain worsened, the Cumbrian looked well in control but officials decided to bring the race to an early conclusion due to the weather. The final classification was taken from the end of lap 13 with Alex winning from team-mate Sam Tordoff.

Starting Sunday’s 14th round from second on the grid, Alex made a good getaway but pole-sitter Tordoff just managed to hold on to the lead. Glew then edged past into second place at the Esses but Alex remained tight to his tail as the battle royal between the two title contenders continued.

On lap four he saw an opportunity to pass Glew into the chicane but as his rival closed the door, Alex locked the brakes slightly and was forced to take to the grass. Rejoining the track in fourth position, he remained there to the chequered flag on lap 16. In addition, he also set the fastest lap with a time of 1m18.085 seconds (89.99mph) to grab two bonus points.

Looking back on the weekend’s action, Alex commented: “I’d hoped for a couple of podium finishes this weekend, especially as our pace was good all the way through, but the second race didn’t quite work out as we planned.

“I got a good run on (Philip) Glew through Coram on lap four, he was a bit sideways so I thought I had to go for it but the brakes locked up and I went straight on over the grass which allowed him back past and (Andrew) Herron too. After that, there were places I was quicker than Herron but I just couldn’t get by, it’s so difficult to pass in a Clio at Snetterton.”

Alex added: “The win on Saturday was really good, we just need some more now! I was happy with the way things went but the conditions were very difficult on slick tyres. It’s Silverstone again next and we had a pole position there last month so I’m sure we’ll be quick again. We’ve been fast at every circuit this year so there’s no reason the next event should be any different.”

With both of Renault Sport UK’s championships, ELF Renault Clio Cup and Formula Renault UK, not travelling with the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship race package to Knockhill in Scotland a fortnight from now, the 15th and 16th rounds of the Clio Cup will take place in four weeks’ time over the weekend 29th/30th August at Silverstone National Circuit in Northamptonshire.

Provisional 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup Standings (after Rd14):
1st Philip Glew, 402pts; 2nd Alex MacDowall, 326pts; 3rd Andrew Herron, 282pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.