Alex MacDowallCumbrian teenager Alex MacDowall ended the 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup in winning ways at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 3rd/4th October, by taking his fourth race victory of the year to seal the Vice-Champion’s position in the driver standings.

Soundly defeating newly crowned Clio Cup title winner Philip Glew in round 19 on Saturday with a dominant and faultless drive, the 18-year-old added a further podium result in Sunday’s final race of the season – even though handicapped by an intermittent cut-out problem – to prove beyond doubt his pace and front-running credentials.

Although Alex’s season has been dogged at times by bad luck which most certainly compromised his title aspirations, it has still been a very successful year for the Carlisle-based driver. Along with his four race victories he also achieved eight other podiums, seven pole positions, three fastest laps and achieved the ‘Driver of the Day’ accolade on three occasions – including this weekend for his superb win.

During pre-event practice on Friday, Alex set the pace at the wheel of his Total Control Racing-run car with a best time of 1m40.259 seconds (82.61mph) during the second session – a performance made even more impressive by the fact he remained on old tyres for the duration, unlike a number of his front-running rivals.

Into qualifying on Saturday morning, he secured third on the grid for round 19 and an improved front-row start for round 20 but it was the first of the weekend’s races where Alex shone brightest with a truly stunning, textbook performance.

Rocketing away from third place, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star shadowed Robert Gaffney through Paddock Hill Bend as the pair got ahead of pole-sitter Glew. After applying immense pressure to Gaffney through Surtees and down Pilgrim’s Drop, Alex made the breakthough to take the lead exiting Hawthorn Bend when Gaffney succumbed and ran wide.

Building an excellent lead of three seconds, Alex’s advantage was eroded at the end of lap seven when the Safety Car was deployed to clear away the stricken car of Mark Hazell but at the re-start he led the pack away well and was never headed – taking the win by two seconds from Glew.

“I wasn’t going to let that one go”, said the TCR ace at the end of round 19, “We were fastest in the practice, third in qualifying so we knew we had the pace. I made an awesome start, (Robert) Gaffney was inside, (Andrew) Herron tried to go around the outside into the first corner and I was the meat in the sandwich really.

“I flashed my lights at Gaffney going along Cooper Straight and he went into Surtees far too hot so I thought, yes. I knew he was prone to make a mistake and I managed to get by him at Westfield. I knew I had to make a good re-start, I wanted to try and impress, and beating the champion is what I wanted to do – and I did.”

Sunday’s 20th round produced another excellent drive from Alex and he pressured race leader, and pole-position starter, Glew hard during the second half of the race – the pair split by just three 10ths of a second at the finish on lap 15. Ending the season as a richly deserving Vice-Champion, Alex now prepares for 2010 as he bids to continue his excellent career progression in saloon car competition.

Final 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup Standings:
Champion: Philip Glew, 563pts; 2nd Alex MacDowall, 445pts; 3rd Andrew Herron, 362pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.