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Category: World Touring Car Championship

Alex MacDowallAlex MacDowall racked-up his seventh Yokohama Independents Trophy podium finish of the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship season at the Salzburgring in Austria on Sunday, 19th May, on one of the most controversial weekends in the history of the category.

Finishing third in the Independents Trophy and sixth overall in round 10, having earlier scythed his way through the order from 12th on the grid into fifth in class and fourth overall in round nine, the Carlisle driver ended the event third in the Independents standings and seventh in the main WTCC title battle.

Rapid from the off in practice on Saturday, 18th May, leading the way in the Independents during the first session and posting the third quickest time of all, Alex carried his form into qualifying where he grabbed the class pole position for round 10 with a place on the second row of the overall grid.

However, 14 drivers – including the 22-year-old Cumbrian – were placed under investigation by the stewards following a bizarre second period of qualifying in which Tom Chilton backed up the rest of the runners as the clock ticked down in order to prevent anyone gaining an all-important slipstream.

Championship officials took a dim view on proceedings, which they claimed to be “unsporting”, and although Alex was stuck in the lead train of cars he was still served with a substantial eight place grid penalty and a hefty 3,000 Euro fine.

“Everyone needed a tow but [Tom] Chilton held everyone up, I tagged onto the train hoping I’d get a tow but everyone got backed up and before we got round to start another lap the chequered flag had come out”, explained Alex, “I think the penalty I got was a bit harsh, there were a high number of penalties over the weekend though.”

Despite the loss of grid places, which almost certainly cost the Chevrolet Cruze driver a chance at an outright podium and class victory, Alex made outstanding progress in Sunday’s first race with one of the best drives of his touring car career.

Instantly moving into the top 10, the Bamboo Engineering racer quickly moved up into eighth overall and sixth in class and on lap three he was into fifth – both overall and in the Independents – after passing fellow Brit James Thompson.

Reeling in the BMW of Fredy Barth, Alex challenged for fourth but after running slightly wide at the second corner on lap six both were passed by Yvan Muller. Taking fifth from Barth a lap later, fourth in class, he remained there to the chequered flag. Confirming his race winning potential, Alex posted the fastest lap of all with a time of 1m26.925 seconds (109.13mph).

Starting round 10 from seventh place overall, Alex was shuffled back to 10th but maintained third in the Independents Trophy. Into ninth after a couple of laps, still third in class, he rocketed past 2012 WTCC Champion Rob Huff on lap four for eighth overall and then passed Gabriele Tarquini and Pepe Oriola in quick succession to move into the top six where he stayed to the finish.

“I think we could have had a podium in race one without the penalty”, said Alex, “It’s one of the best races I’ve driven and I was pleased with the result, from 12th to fifth overall isn’t bad at all. Taking a class podium in race two was good, all the way through the weekend the car was working well and we showed we had the pace. We turned what was a bad weekend after qualifying into a good one.”

Rounds 11 and 12 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship will take place three weeks from now on 8th/9th June at Moscow Raceway – the category’s first ever visit to Russia.

2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd10):
7th Alex MacDowall, 73pts

2013 FIA WTCC Yokohama Independents Trophy Driver Standings (after Rd10):
3rd Alex MacDowall, 66pts

Photo by Romano Poli/www.photo-4.com.

Darryl O'YoungAfter escaping last Saturday’s crash at the Qualifying of the Race of Slovakia unharmed, ROAL Motorsport driver Darryl O’Young proved why he is Hong Kong’s number one race car driver as he scored eight points from two races despite starting both from the second last spot on the grid.

Having oversteer his car to crash out at the Qualifying and failed to record a time, O’Young was forced to start at the 22nd place out of 23 cars. However, not even this can stop the 33-year-old from turning in some heroic performance, as Darryl recovered well in both races, and stormed to an independent podium and an overall top ten finish in the second race in Slovakia.

It goes without saying the hard work of ROAL Motorsport’s mechanics are to be credited as they helped repaired the crashed BMW TC 320 overnight, but it was Darryl’s incredible driving that saw him rocketed to an independent P7 and an overall P14 finish in the opening race despite starting from the back of the pack. O’Young then further improved in the second race, outpacing a few more opponents to finish third in the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy, while also breaking into the overall top ten.

“My car was handling very well and I had a very good race pace. After passing several cars on the standing start, I was able to pass several other cars throughout the race, advancing from P22 on the grid up to P10 by the end of the race. I was pleased to claim my first independent podium of the season and score some further World Championship points,” a satisfied O’Young spoke of his second race after the chequered flag.

Results in Slovakia see O’Young pocketed eight points during this race weekend to stay fourth on the independent standings. Drivers and teams will next travel to Hungary for Round 4 of the calendar, which is set to take place on Hungaroring later this week.

Qualifying 1 at Slovakia Ring – DNF
“On the first lap of the qualifying session, I was going through Turn 9 and got a oversteer on the exit of the turn sending me off through the grass and gravel. This put me into the tire wall at 160 kilometers per hour, my biggest crash ever in WTCC.”

Race 1 at Slovakia Ring (2013 round 5) – Independent P7 & Overall P14
“I started well and overtake several cars through turn 1, I had good pace but began struggling with my tires from the middle of the race and I could no longer attack anymore. I was happy to come from the back of the grid up to P14 and score P7 in the independent class.”

Race 2 at Slovakia (2013 round 6) – Independent P3 & Overall P10
“We made some changes to the car and they worked very well. I caught up to the top 10 group after some fast laps and began to attack Mehdi Bennani for the last five laps of the race. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a way pass him.”

Sponsors LKM and FUSPEED are the major forces behind Darryl’s pursuit of success in the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship. Please visit www.fiawtcc.com for more WTCC information and www.darryloyoung.com for the latest updates about Darryl.

Alex MacDowall - Slovakia RingAlex MacDowall closed to within just nine points of the Yokohama Independents Trophy lead during the third event of the FIA World Touring Car Championship season in Slovakia on Sunday, 28th April, by racing to his second class victory of the 2013 season.

Completely erasing memories of a somewhat trying visit to the Slovakia Ring 12 months ago during his maiden season in the WTCC, the Carlisle driver produced two excellent race performances this weekend at the Bratislava track to consolidate third place in the Independents Trophy standings.

Race two, round six, was the pick of the action for the 22-year-old and despite a troublesome start, which dropped him from fifth overall on the grid to 11th place, Alex remained calm and composed and began to move back through the order – taking 10th on lap four.

Into ninth on lap five, the Chevrolet Cruze driver ran in the thick of a very closely contested pack of seven cars where the slightest of errors would prove costly. Holding the Independents lead, Alex swarmed all over the back of the RML-run Chevrolet of Tom Chilton while having to keep one eye on his mirrors at all times with Mehdi Bennani’s BMW right behind.

Taking eighth overall on lap nine at the expense of the Honda of Norbert Michelisz, Alex continued to pressurise Chilton and at the chequered flag on lap 10 only 0.2 seconds separated them with only 0.5 seconds the difference to sixth placed Pepe Oriola.

“It was all action-packed at the start”, said the Cumbrian, “We didn’t make a particularly good start which put us out on the outfield into turn one – that wasn’t great. From then on, everyone was struggling with cold tyres and we picked a few off on that lap. Then it was quite a dog fight to the end but I caught the leaders quite quickly. It’s great to win again, just what we needed.”

In round five, Alex lined-up sixth overall on the grid and with the Independents Trophy pole position thanks to a best lap of 2m11.422 seconds (162.21 km/h) in qualifying – a marked improvement on 2012 underlining the progress made by driver and team.

Unfortunately pushed back to ninth at the start, that made all the difference between a potential class victory and a third place Independents finish. With the racing unbelievably close, hardly any places were changed among the front-runners and after recovering into eighth overall, third in class, Alex wasn’t able to make any further inroads.

Able to pull clear of the pack behind, he pressured the Chevrolet of Michel Nykjaer and at the flag on lap 10 just 0.3 seconds separated the duo. Confirming his pace, Alex’s best lap of 2m13.845 seconds was little more than 0.1 seconds shy of the Independents Trophy fastest from Danish driver Nykjaer.

Rounds seven and eight of the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship will take place just a week from now, on 4th/5th May, at the Hungaroring in Hungary.

2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd6):
9th Alex MacDowall, 34pts

2013 FIA WTCC Yokohama Independents Trophy Driver Standings (after Rd6):
3rd Alex MacDowall, 37pts

Photo by Romano Poli/www.photo-4.com.

Alex MacDowallHot on the heels of an outstanding start to the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship at Monza just over a week ago, Britain’s Alex MacDowall is confident of continuing his superb early season form when the series makes its annual visit to Morocco this coming weekend, 6th/7th April.

Heading to the Circuit Moulay El Hassan street track in Marrakech holding second position in the Yokohama Independents Trophy, and equal fourth in the main WTCC title race, the Carlisle ace made his intentions clear during the season opener with class victory and his first outright WTCC podium.

After such an impressive start to his second season in the world championship, 22-year-old Alex is aiming to keep the momentum going when he arrives in North Africa – especially as he was very competitive in his Chevrolet at the 4.5-kilometre Moroccan circuit on his first visit there in 2012.

“Monza was a good start to the season for us and I want to continue that in Marrakech, I’ll be aiming for the front row in qualifying”, commented Alex, “I think it should play well for us, the track should suit us as the Chevys were strong there last year. We didn’t do too badly last season, we had some bad luck in the end but we qualified strongly and that’s what we need to do again.”

During the corresponding Moroccan event in 2012, Alex was all set for two Yokohama Independents Trophy podiums at least and his pace certainly merited such results. In the opening encounter, he was in the overall top six on the first lap when unfortunate contact dropped him to the back of the field. He mounted a terrific recovery though, climbing back into the top 12 and sixth in class.

Beginning race two on the Independents pole position, hopes of a potential class win – which would have been his first – went awry almost immediately when a broken driveshaft led to retirement. This year, Alex is determined to put the record straight with more overall podiums and a bid for a couple of class victories.

He added: “We need to be aiming to qualify right up near the front again next weekend. If the weather is warm it will help the BMWs but the kerbs in Marrakech are hard on the cars and the Chevy copes with them really well. Our car is good on the kerbs and there are long straights which suit the strengths of the Cruze – we should be aiming to come away with two really strong results.”

Following a brief half-hour test session in Marrakech on Friday, 5th April, two additional 30-minute practice sessions will take place on Saturday, 6th April, ahead of qualifying at 14.30 (local time). Both races will be held on Sunday, 7th April, with round three scheduled to start at 15.20 and round four set to commence at 16.20 – all of the action will be screened live on the British Eurosport network.

2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings:
=4th Alex MacDowall, 18pts

2013 FIA WTCC Yokohama Independents Trophy Driver Standings:
2nd Alex MacDowall, 12pts

Photo by Romano Poli/www.photo-4.com

Darryl O'YoungMaking his ROAL Motorsport debut in a BMW 320TC at the 2013 World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) season opener in Monza yesterday, Hong Kong car racer Darryl O’Young, who qualified as the top BMW 320TC driver, banked eight points after battling in the rain for both races. He now ranks 5th in the WTCC independents’ standings.

“There are many positives to take away from this weekend such as our qualifying pace. I feel very confident as we head into the next few races. The conditions for Sunday race day completely changed everything for us, as it rained the entire day and rear wheel drive cars are known to struggle in the rain.” The 32-yea-old, whose birthday is coming tomorrow, continues. “It’s frustrating as I feel the pole position (of Race 2) was wasted this time in Italy.”

Starting in the 10th place in the opening race, O’Young lost a few places to Marc Basseng, Gabriele Tarquini and Stefano D’Aste as the trio got past him as early as the second lap. The Macau WTCC independents winners did fight back to reclaim a few places as the race went on, but he went into gravel later on lap 9 before finishing with an independent P6, and overall P13.

O’Young started the second race from pole on reverse grid. Despite conceding a few places approaching the end of the first lap, the 32-year-old was able to focus on scoring as many points as possible and crossed the finish line as the fourth fastest car in the independent class.

A top six and another top four finish in Monza allowed Darryl to pocket eight valuable points in his maiden race with his new team, a befitting outcome echoing the qualifying results, especially given the severe intervention on the morning.

The next race will be held in Morocco, on the Marrakech street circuit, in two weeks’ time.

Qualifying 1 at Monza – Independent P4 & Overall P8

“It was a fantastic qualifying session for me this weekend here in Monza. This circuit is known to be one of the worst tracks for the BMW with its long straights, so we knew a top 5 in qualifying wouldn’t be possible here on this track. My target was to qualify in the top 10 overall and also be the top BMW in the field, and this was exactly what we achieved in qualifying.”

Qualifying 2 at Monza – Independent P4 & Overall P10

“I got the maximum from my BMW today and it was the best result I could have hoped for here in Monza WTCC qualifying. I am the top BMW, and most importantly, pole position for Race 2.”

Race 1 at Monza (2013 round 1) – Independent P6 & Overall P13

“In race 1, I struggled for grip in the rain and began getting passed by the front wheel drive cars. Some small contact with Swiss driver Freddy Barth put me through the gravel and this cost me several positions. At the end, I was able to recover but it was disappointing.”

Race 2 at Monza (2013 round 2) – Independent P4 & Overall P12

“In race 2, I started from pole position but I knew it would be impossible to hold the lead in the heavy rain conditions. I decided not to give too much of a fight to the front wheel drive cars and focus on scoring as many points as possible. I held the lead only for two corners and the front wheel drive cars passed me like I was standing still.”

Sponsors LKM and FUSPEED are the major forces behind Darryl’s pursuit of success in the 2013 FIM World Touring Car Championship. Please visit www.fiawtcc.com for more WTCC information and www.darryloyoung.com for the latest updates about Darryl.

Alex MacDowall - leading in MacauAlex MacDowall was incredibly lucky to emerge unscathed from a horrifying, high-speed impact with the barriers at Circuito da Guia in Macau on Sunday, 18th November, after contact from outgoing FIA World Touring Car Champion Yvan Muller during the final round of the 2012 season.

Bringing a bitter conclusion to an otherwise highly promising Macau debut for Carlisle 21-year-old Alex, the heavy collision at Mandarin Bend – the fastest corner on the 3.8-mile street circuit – also resulted in him missing out on a top three finish in the Yokohama Independents Trophy title race.

“Everything was going really well in race two, we definitely had the chance of an overall podium as well as an Independents one”, explained Alex, “[Yvan] Muller just completely misjudged it, I had to be careful not to hit Pepe [Oriola] in front of me as he defended but Muller just carried on flat-out behind, closed-in too quickly and just turned me round – it was definitely his fault.

“I was feeling pretty hot-headed afterwards but OK thankfully, it was a big hit with the barrier. It’s really disappointing, I’d had the lead just before and we were still on for a podium. It’s the hardest street circuit in the world and the kind of place where knowledge is everything, so to go there for the first time and be so fast was great. I definitely exceeded my expectations despite the collision.”

Alex had begun round 24 on the outright ‘reverse grid’ pole position, as well as the Independents Trophy pole, and although losing out to the expectedly fast-starting rear-wheel drive BMW of class points leader Norbert Michelisz off the line, the Briton hit back on lap two with a fantastic pass along the pit-straight to regain the lead.

Driving sensationally, the Macau rookie held an advantage of 0.9 seconds going into lap three, now over the works Chevrolet of Alain Menu, but the slightest brush of the barriers at the previous corner cost him significant momentum up the straight – enabling the Swiss driver to slingshot past into San Francisco.

The delay ended up costing the Bamboo Engineering driver another couple of positions as well, so dropped him to fourth overall and third in the Independents Trophy, but he quickly re-challenged third placed Pepe Oriola ahead.

On the run through the 235km/h Mandarin Bend though on lap four, as Alex was sensibly careful not to make contact with the defensive Oriola as the train of cars ran nose-to-tail, the pursuing works Chevrolet of Muller carried full speed through the turn and tagged the right-rear of Alex’s car which dramatically speared his Cruze head-on into the unforgiving barriers on the inside.

Sending his car into a series of worrying spins, with the front-end of the Chevrolet destroyed, the WTCC rookie was thankfully avoided by the oncoming train of cars streaming through the turn and he was eventually able to extricate himself safely.

“After I got the lead I was pulling away comfortably, as soon as I saw [Alain] Menu in my mirrors though I knew I needed to push harder”, said Alex, “Unfortunately, I just caught the barrier at the last corner after checking the mirrors again and that cost me momentum all the way up the straight. When Menu went by, I lost momentum again and that’s how the others got past.”

During the earlier 23rd round, Alex finished fourth in the Independents Trophy and ninth overall in a race which was compromised for all bar the top six due to a first lap tangle at Lisboa which led to the track being blocked.

As cars dueling for seventh collided, Alex was in the pursuing group and was badly delayed. When the track was cleared and the queue of stationary cars was released, the Briton posted consistently strong lap times and managed to climb into ninth and fourth in class – having started 10th overall.

After the final weekend of the season, Alex retains 11th position in the main WTCC driver standings, an impressive result in his maiden season in the World Championship, tied on points with 10th placed Mehdi Bennani. In the Yokohama Independents Trophy he rounded-out the year fifth in the table, just 17 points shy of the top three, during a season in which he claimed two wins and eight podiums.

Final 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings:
CHAMPION: Robert Huff, 413pts; 11th Alex MacDowall, 68pts

Final 2012 FIA WTCC ‘Yokohama Independents Trophy’ Driver Standings:
CHAMPION: Norbert Michelisz, 139pts; 5th Alex MacDowall, 105pts

Photo by Romano Poli/www.photo-4.com.

Darryll O'YoungWith the 2012 World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) season finale sets to unfold this weekend, Hong Kong race driver Darryl O’Young hopes to reproduce his stunning form on Macau’s Guia Circuit by winning the independent “class pole” for the third successive year on Friday.

“Last year we qualified strong here in P4 overall, so I’ll be looking to repeat a good grid position to give myself the best possibility to end up on the overall podium,” said the Bamboo-Engineering driver.

O’Young, who has tallied 45 points in the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy to date this season, is also hoping to make the most of his “home court advantage”. The Hong Kong number one driver says he intends to give his fans and sponsors something to cheer for after a long, hard season.

“This season has been the most difficult of all my three years in the championship, my team and I have worked very hard this season with minimal results, so I feel it is time to claim my first independent win of the season. I hope everyone will come out to the Macau GP this year to cheer me on and give me the extra support I need to do well in the race,” said the 32-year-old O’Young.

This weekend’s Race of Macau will see double points being awarded for all drivers, so a maximum of 43 points are up for grab for the independent class, including 20 points for each win, one point for fastest lap in each of the two races, and one more point for the “class pole”. Drivers are required to compete on the Guia Circuit for two rounds of nine laps each, and the 6.1 kilometers Guia Circuit is the longest of all races this entire season.

Sponsors LKM and A-Ha Coffee are the major forces behind Darryl’s pursuit of success in the 2012 FIM World Touring Car Championship. Please visit www.fiawtcc.com for more WTCC information and www.darryloyoung.com for the latest updates about Darryl.

Alex MacDowall - WTCC Chevrolet CruzeChevrolet Cruze driver Alex MacDowall aims to break into the coveted top three in the Yokohama Independents Trophy points standings this coming weekend, 20th/21st October, when the FIA World Touring Car Championship arrives in Japan for rounds 19 and 20 of the season.

Marking the Carlisle WTCC rookie’s first ever visit to the Far East, and therefore maiden experience of the 2.2-kilometre Suzuka East Circuit, the 10th race meeting of the season will be yet another fresh challenge for Alex – and one he is seriously looking forward to.

Arriving in Japan fourth in the Independents driver standings, a mere six points shy of third place, the Bamboo Engineering racer is brimming with confidence at the moment off the back of two highly successful race meetings in Brazil and America.

With a best result of second in class, sixth overall, during the first of two races at Curitiba, followed up by a double Independents Trophy podium at Sonoma in California, the 21-year-old has now taken a total of seven class podiums during the course of the year – including, of course, one victory from the sixth event of the season at Salzburgring in Austria.

“I think Suzuka will be a good track for us again”, said Alex, “The Cruze was strong around there last year with full success ballast and it often rains in Japan. Racing in the wet is one of my strong points so that could work well for us if the weather is like that, whenever it has rained in the past I’ve always qualified on pole so I’m hoping it will be wet next weekend.

“I’ve been working really hard with my engineer Nick [Clipson] and we’re happy we’ve got a good set-up now which we really like. The last two rounds, in Brazil and America, have been our strongest which shows the work we’ve been doing is correct and making a positive difference.”

With six races remaining in the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship, including a double-points awarding finale at Macau, Alex can still mathematically win the Yokohama Independents Trophy but his focus is realistically on battling for the Vice-Champion’s position and best of the rookies.

“My aim is get into the top three in the Independents championship by the end of the weekend, and close the gap to second which is my goal for the end of the season”, he added, “I’m really hoping for another strong run at the weekend and with the long straight at Suzuka, which should play into the Chevy’s hands, we’ve got a good chance for some more great results.”

Following a single half-hour test session at Suzuka on Friday, 19th October, two free practice sessions will take place on Saturday, 20th October, ahead of qualifying at 15.30 local time (06.30 UK time). On Sunday, 21st October, round 19 will get underway at 14.35 (05.35 UK time) with round 20 scheduled to start at 15.50 (06.50 UK time).

Qualifying and both races will be screened live on the Eurosport network , across digital satellite and cable platforms, and the action will also be available online through the Eurosport Player service. Visit www.eurosportplayer.co.uk for details.

2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd18):
1st Norbert Michelisz, 134pts; 4th Alex MacDowall, 79pts

2012 FIA WTCC ‘Yokohama Independents Trophy’ Driver Standings (after Rd18):
1st Yvan Muller, 315pts; 10th Alex MacDowall, 52pts

Photo by Romano Poli/www.photo-4.com

Darryl O'YoungChinese WTCC driver, Darryl O’Young has announced today that he has re-signed with Bamboo Engineering for the remainder of the 2012 World Touring Car Championship season, driving the Chevrolet Cruze 1.6 Turbo. There are three remaining races, six rounds, at Suzuka, Shanghai and Macau.

Having driven for Bamboo Engineering for two seasons in 2010 and 2011, O’Young made the switch to Special Tuning Racing for the 2012 season to get behind the wheel of the new SEAT Leon 1.6T.

O’Young’s contract with STR expired after the past round in the USA before the series headed over to Asia for the final three races six rounds of the 2012 season.

“I have enjoyed my time with STR very much. They are a great bunch of guys and everyone on the team worked very hard to give us success. Unfortunately, we had terrible luck this year and the results simply haven’t been strong enough. I’d like to thank everyone at STR and also SEAT Sport for the tremendous support they have given me during the season.” Said the WTCC regular.

O’Young has had the most success with Bamboo Engineering in his WTCC career having taken several wins and podiums in his two years with the team, including being in contention for the independent title up until the final round in Macau on his rookie season. He hopes to continue the success from the past years with Bamboo straight away.

“I am very close with the entire team at Bamboo and I am confident we can carry where we left off in the 2011 season. I know the car well and the engineers know my driving style, I also have a strong teammate in Alex MacDowall so it is the right ingredients to try and turn my season around in front of my home crowds in Asia. I have to thank Bamboo for the opportunity to work together again and I’ll do everything in my ability to succeed in the coming rounds” Said O’Young.

Bamboo Engineering Team Principal Richard Coleman said: “We’re all very excited to be working with Darryl again, and we’re hoping it will be the third time lucky in Macau to get the win after he claimed Independents pole in 2010 and 2011. With Darryl back on board we are looking forward to delivering more solid results and give the team a boost in the teams championship”

To learn more about Darryl O’Young, visit www.darryloyoung.com.

To learn more about Bamboo Engineering, visit www.bamboo-engineering.com.

Alex MacDowall - Sonoma WTCCAlex MacDowall enjoyed a hugely successful maiden visit to Sonoma in the United States over the weekend, 22nd/23rd September, by claiming two highly competitive Yokohama Independents Trophy podiums during rounds 17 and 18 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship.

Finishing runner-up in class in both encounters at the 4.03-kilometre Californian track, the Carlisle 21-year-old achieved his goal of closing down the top three drivers in the Independents Trophy title race and concluded the event just six points shy of third position.

Chalking up the sixth and seventh podium finishes of his debut season in the WTCC, Alex also came incredibly close to securing the fastest Independents Trophy lap in each outing – missing out by just 0.023 seconds in race one and 0.1 seconds in the second outing. Notably, the Bamboo Engineering driver lapped faster than outright winner and ‘works’ Chevrolet driver Rob Huff in race two.

Qualifying second in class for round 17, a mere 0.020 seconds shy of the Yokohama Independents Trophy pole position and sixth overall on the grid, the Cumbrian driver held position at the start but moved into the top five a few laps into the race following mechanical problems for Alain Menu’s car.

Lapping consistently strongly behind vastly experienced touring car racer Gabriele Tarquini, Alex worked hard to fend off the Italian’s team-mate Tiago Monteiro and impressively maintained fifth overall in his Chevrolet Cruze, second in class, to the chequered flag on lap 13.

Lining-up fifth again on the ‘reverse’ grid for round 18, as a result of the top eight finishers from race one being flipped, the WTCC rookie wasn’t able to repeat his earlier good start unfortunately and slipped to eighth and then to the tail of the overall top 10.

Importantly though, most of the drivers who did manage to squeeze ahead weren’t from the Independents Class so the loss of places wasn’t as significant as it might have been. By lap five, Alex was back into eighth overall and third in the Independents chase and he swiftly moved into second in class following an excursion for Franz Engstler.

Running as high as sixth overall into the final third of the race, Alex slipped behind Tom Coronel’s BMW on lap 11 but held on to second in the Yokohama Independents Trophy to cap a successful weekend of racing with just three events remaining in the 2012 championship.

“The first race was really good, finishing fifth overall and second in the Independents was a great result and just what we wanted”, said Alex, “The aim was to close the gap to the top three in the Indy championship this weekend and we’ve done that so I’m really pleased. In race two we lost a few places early on but it wasn’t a problem, overall it’s been a really good weekend.”

Next stop on the WTCC schedule is a visit to the opposite side of the globe with rounds 19 and 20 of the championship taking place at Suzuka in Japan, home of the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix, over the weekend 20th/21st October.

2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd18):
1st Norbert Michelisz, 134pts; 4th Alex MacDowall, 79pts

2012 FIA WTCC ‘Yokohama Independents Trophy’ Driver Standings (after Rd18):
1st Yvan Muller, 315pts; 10th Alex MacDowall, 52pts

Photo by Romano Poli/www.photo-4.com.