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Alex MacDowallCarlisle racing driver Alex MacDowall will make the leap onto the global stage this year after today, Monday, 27th February, confirming a deal to graduate into the FIA World Touring Car Championship with front-running British team Bamboo Engineering.

Putting an end to recent speculation over whether or not he would remain in the British Touring Car Championship in 2012 following the withdrawal of the RML-run Chevrolet team, the 21-year-old will step-up to world level competition with his debut taking place at Monza in Italy on 10th/11th March.

Continuing his association with the Chevrolet brand, Alex – who arrives in the World Championship off the back of two impressive seasons in the BTCC – will pilot a 1.6-litre turbo-engined Cruze, in which he will enjoy his maiden shakedown test later this week.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be representing Bamboo Engineering in the WTCC this year”, said the Cumbrian star, “It’s great to be continuing my relationship with Chevrolet and I can’t wait to drive the 1.6 turbo Cruze, it’s a fantastic racecar and it’s a dream come true being able to compete in the World Championship with such a great team.

“I really enjoyed my two years in the BTCC and I’ll miss the fans, my supporters and the sponsors who helped me achieve the success and experience I gained there. Moving into the WTCC is a massive opportunity though and could be a major turning point for my career. We’re aiming for some top results.”

Stepping into touring cars with the RML-run Chevrolet squad in 2010 off the back of becoming ELF Renault Clio Cup Vice-Champion the year before, Alex quickly got to grips with the BTCC and his talent shone through with two podium results in his maiden season in the championship.

Most notably, he entered the record books as the youngest ever driver to qualify on pole position in the BTCC with an outstanding performance in the wet at Snetterton in Norfolk, aged just 19 years and 197 days.

In 2011, Alex remained in the championship with RML and Chevrolet in a normally aspirated car. The introduction of turbo engines into the BTCC meant the team faced an uphill battle all year but, even so, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star managed to achieve three podium finishes on his way to ninth in the standings.

New challenges galore for 2012
While Alex is obviously very familiar with the Chevrolet Cruze, his 2012 adventure will bring with it a variety of fresh challenges – not least the 12 international race circuits which will all be completely new to the WTCC rookie.

Visiting Italy, Spain, Morocco, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Portugal, Brazil, America, Japan, China and the world-famous street circuit in Macau, the FIA World Touring Car Championship is a lengthy season – running from March to November.

Aside from learning each of the new tracks he visits Alex will also need to adapt to the use of Yokohama tyres, having run on Dunlop rubber for the past two years in the BTCC and Michelin tyres before that in the Renault Clio Cup.

With regard to the championship battle, as a non-manufacturer entry Silverstone-based Bamboo will compete for the Yokohama Independents Trophy and team principal Richard Coleman is confident regarding the squad’s title-challenging chances.

“This will be Bamboo’s third assault on the Yokohama Independents Trophy and our aim every year is to be competing for the trophy”, said Coleman, “Alex has proved himself in the BTCC over the last two seasons and I’m sure he’ll shine at world level as well.”

Following this week’s initial shakedown at Rockingham, Alex will prepare for the first two races of the season at Monza in Italy. Free practice and qualifying will take place on Saturday, 10th March, with warm-up and rounds one and two taking place on Sunday, 11th March. Television coverage of the WTCC will be screened in the UK on British Eurosport.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Alex MacDowall - Chevrolet CruzeBritish Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Superstar Alex MacDowall is looking forward to next weekend’s visit to Knockhill as much as any event so far on the 2011 calendar, believing the Fife track offers one of his best chances yet of securing his maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship victory.

The BTCC’s annual visit to Scotland, which this year takes place on 3rd/4th September, is one of the most important events of the season for the Carlisle driver – in actual fact, it’s very much a ‘home’ race meeting with the MacDowall family originally hailing from Ayrshire.

During his debut season in the UK’s premier motor racing championship last year, Alex starred at Knockhill by taking his second career pole position in touring cars and also setting a new qualifying lap record for the 1.3-mile circuit with a scintillating effort.

In the first of the weekend’s three races, he went on to secure a well deserved second place and also posted the fastest lap to underline his pace. Had he not been jumped at the start by the Honda of Gordon Shedden – who has unrivalled Knockhill knowledge and is also the track’s Business Development Manager – Alex certainly had the speed to claim his maiden BTCC win.

So far this year the 20-year-old has two podiums to his credit and he arrives in Scotland next week seventh in the championship, despite having suffered some serious misfortune. Enjoying his best weekend of 2011 last time out at Snetterton though, bagging a healthy total of 26 points, the Silverline Chevrolet driver maintains high hopes of pushing for a top five championship finish.

Three more consistently strong results at Knockhill, a circuit which suits the superb handling of his RML-run Chevrolet Cruze, will be key to achieving that goal. Alex’s quest should also be helped now the advantage held throughout the season by the turbo-charged cars has been largely leveled out.

“Last year was great so we know the car will be good around Knockhill”, he said, “We had a test at Donington last Thursday which went really well – me and Jason (Plato) were both there so we got through a lot of set-up changes. Qualifying will be more crucial than ever next weekend with so few places to overtake at Knockhill.

“I know I can go a step further than last year and achieve my first win, the track suits my driving style and the Chevrolet Cruze is the best handling chassis in the field so it’s pole or bust! I’m seventh in the championship but it’s still quite tight behind so I need another good points scoring weekend to give me a safe gap.”

Two free practice sessions will take place at Knockhill on Saturday, 3rd September, with qualifying expected to get underway at 15.05. All three races will be contested on Sunday, 4th September, with round 19 set to begin at 11.40, round 20 scheduled to follow at 14.10 and round 21 finalising the day’s action at 17.00.

Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4 will screen each race live with the broadcast also available in High Definition on ITV4 HD. Live streaming of Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s racing will also be carried online at www.itv.com/touringcars

Provisional 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Standings (after Rd18):
1st Mat Jackson, 158pts; 7th Alex MacDowall, 73pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Alex MacDowallSilverline Chevrolet’s Alex MacDowall aims to close some “unfinished business” at Oulton Park in Cheshire next weekend, 4th/5th June, when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship makes its annual visit to the north-west of England.

Carlisle-based Alex, who is currently eighth in the driver standings ahead of the first of two ‘home’ events for him on the 2011 calendar, came extremely close to achieving his maiden BTCC victory during the corresponding race meeting last year.

Starting the third of the weekend’s races from pole position, a driveshaft failure while leading robbed him of a potential victory – something he aims to rectify next weekend at the picturesque 2.2-mile parkland track.

That said, the 20-year-old British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Superstar knows the task will be even harder this year with the well-documented performance advantage held so far by the turbo-charged Hondas, Fords and Vauxhalls in comparison to his normally-aspirated 2.0-litre Chevrolet Cruze.

He commented: “I feel like I have unfinished business with Oulton Park, I was robbed of a win last year due to the broken driveshaft. I think in qualifying we will be closer to the turbo cars than we have been so far this year but they will still be hard to beat.

“I should have qualified on pole at Oulton last year by 0.4 seconds so if I can produce a lap time like that again, I think I have a good chance of being on the front row. The Chevrolet Cruze is the best overall package on the grid and Oulton is the most demanding track on the calendar. My aim for the weekend is to try and end up seventh in the championship – we’ll be pushing as hard as ever.”

Having scored in seven of the nine races contested so far this season, the hugely talented Cumbrian has been a consistent front-runner but he’s hungry for a return to the podium. The closest Alex has been so far was during round six at Donington Park in mid-April when he finished fourth. Despite starting on pole position, the speed advantage of the turbos was simply too much to overcome.

Free practice at Oulton Park is scheduled to take place at 09.30 and 12.45 on Saturday, 4th June, with qualifying – coverage of which will be streamed live online at www.itv.com/touringcars – set to follow at 15.15. Round 10 will be the opening race of the day on Sunday, 5th June, at 12.15 with round 11 expected to start at 14.30 and round 12 set to begin at 17.10.

As ever, live coverage of all three BTCC encounters will be screened on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4, on the ITV4 HD channel and also streamed online at www.itv.com/touringcars

Provisional 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Standings (after Rd9):
1st Matt Neal, 90pts; 8th Alex MacDowall, 28pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

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.

Alex MacDowallBritish Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star Alex MacDowall secured his 10th ELF Renault Clio Cup podium of the 2009 season at Silverstone National Circuit over the weekend, 29th/30th August, with a tremendous drive through the order from ninth on the grid in the 15th round of the campaign.

While qualifying on Saturday morning didn’t go according to plan due to a small problem with the dampers on the 18-year-old’s car, he still managed to lap within two 10ths of a second of pole position with a time of 1m05.344 seconds (90.29mph) – a superb effort.

Uncharacteristically lining up on the fifth row of the grid for the first race of the weekend, Carlisle-based Alex got a good start and immediately began to make his presence felt at the sharp end as he made his way into the top five by lap two.

At the end of the sixth tour Alex gained another spot at the expense of Aron Smith, who was served with a drive-through penalty for a start-line indiscretion, and into lap seven a mere three 10ths of a second separated the Total Control Racing driver from third placed Tom Carnaby.

With the podium well within his sights Alex pressed on and by lap 11 he was in a position to make his move. Pulling alongside Carnaby at Luffield, the pair ran wheel-to-wheel into the 12th tour and Alex sealed the move by taking third place into Copse.

During the remaining seven laps, Alex pulled out a four second cushion over Carnaby while also closing to within just eight 10ths of a second of championship leader Philip Glew. In addition, he also posted the second fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m05.625 seconds.

Commenting on his latest podium success, the Cumbrian said: “I made a good start, didn’t really get boxed in and went around the outside of (James) Colburn at Copse. There were a lot of people going wide at the first corner but I judged it right and then into Becketts I passed (Aron) Smith for fifth.

“When I got into fourth place I started to catch Carnaby, he seemed to run really wide at Copse and get a good run so I decided to follow his line and it helped me get right onto the back of him and I then passed him at Luffield. He tried to come around the outside of me at Copse on the next lap but I kept the position and then I had the pace to catch the leaders.

“I was consistently doing fastest lap after fastest lap, the car was so hooked up and it was just a shame we had the damper problem in qualifying. If we had started on pole position, or the front row at least, I’m sure I could have won that race. I’m delighted to have another podium though.”

Sunday afternoon’s 16th round was totally luckless for Alex when damage incurred as he tried to avoid a first-corner collision resulted in an eventual retirement from the race on lap six, a harsh blow for his title aspirations. Nonetheless, thanks to Saturday’s impressive podium he retains the Vice-Champion’s position some 44 points clear of his nearest pursuer.

The penultimate race meeting of the 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup, rounds 17 and 18, will take place three weeks from now over the weekend 19th/20th September at Rockingham International Super Sports Car Circuit in Northamptonshire.

Provisional 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup Standings (after Rd16):
1st Philip Glew, 462pts; 2nd Alex MacDowall, 351pts; 3rd Andrew Herron, 307pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography

Alex MacDowallELF Renault Clio Cup title contender Alex MacDowall recorded his 10th podium finish of the 2009 campaign at Silverstone National Circuit this afternoon, Saturday, 29th August, to consolidate his runner-up spot in the driver standings and remain in touch with series leader Philip Glew.

The Total Control Racing-run teenager, who started the 15th round of the season an uncharacteristic ninth on the grid after problems with his car’s dampers in qualifying, battled through the order very impressively and finished the race just over a second shy of the race winner, Dave Newsham. In the process, he also produced the second fastest lap of 1m05.625 seconds on the final tour.

Underlining the pace of the TCR cars were team-mates Daniel Lloyd and Mike Robinson, both of whom were faced with difficult challenges for different reasons. While Lloyd qualified a very strong fifth on the grid – a career best effort in Clio Cup – Robinson had to start from 21st and last position when a puncture, mere minutes into the qualifying session, forced him to pull off the circuit.

Although making a good getaway at the beginning of this afternoon’s race, Lloyd lost places on a robust opening lap after receiving a tap from behind and on the following tour he was pushed wide to lose yet more ground. Slipping to ninth position, he fought hard to come back through the order and took a top six finish while also posting the third fastest lap of 1m05.653 en route.

Bitterly disappointed to be starting at the back of the grid after his qualifying woes, Robinson proved beyond any doubt he could have been a podium contender by posting the fastest lap of all in the race – 1m05.566 seconds – and carving his way through to a well deserved 12th place finish.

For round 14 race winner Sam Tordoff, today’s race ended abruptly on lap 16 when he was pitched into retirement after being hit by the car of Stephen Tyldsley at the exit of Luffield. Battling over 12th position at the time, Tordoff’s enforced exit marks only his second non-score of the season.

“All four of our Clio drivers had good pace in the race, even though we did lack some performance in qualifying, and each of them did a solid job”, commented TCR team principal Lee Brookes, “It was great to be on the podium again with Alex, he drove very well, and Daniel’s top six was a very good result considering his troubles on the first couple of laps.

“Mike did a fantastic job to grab the fastest lap and it shows what he might have been able to do if he hadn’t had the puncture in qualifying which forced him to start in last place. We’re obviously very disappointed for Sam, the incident wasn’t his fault he just got hit and that was it.”

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography

Carl Breeze taking Rd17 G50 Cup winWest Midlands-based Total Control Racing made this weekend’s race meeting at Snetterton its own after another incredible outing today, Sunday 2nd August, with further wins in the ELF Renault Clio Cup and Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup.

After winning rounds 15 and 16 of the Ginetta G50 season yesterday, King’s Lynn driver Carl Breeze made it a perfect hat-trick this afternoon with a very well deserved success in round 17 to eat into the championship lead of chief rival Nathan Freke.

In the Clio Cup, meanwhile, car racing rookie Sam Tordoff took a memorable debut victory under huge pressure from series leader Philip Glew, category front-runner Andrew Herron and team-mate Alex MacDowall to cap off an unbelievable weekend for the Leeds-based youngster.

For round 17 of the Ginetta G50 Cup Breeze started from pole position, his third of the weekend, with TCR team-mates Fulvio Mussi and Joachim Ritter eighth and 10th on the grid respectively. At the start, Breeze immediately moved into the lead but he had to fight hard throughout with Frank Wrathall applying serious pressure for the duration of the 18-lap encounter.

Mussi produced perhaps his best drive of the 2009 campaign with an excellent climb through the order into fourth place, just a couple of seconds shy of a maiden podium, while Danish racer Ritter battled through a weekend of sickness to post a fine 11th place finish.

Round 14 of the Renault Clio Cup provided one of the best rookie performances of the season with Tordoff converting his first ever pole position into a lights-to-flag victory. Holding off the vastly experienced Glew for the full 16 lap duration, Tordoff looked completely in control and the win has enabled him to climb into the championship top eight.

MacDowall, who won Saturday’s 13th round, consolidated the runner-up spot in the championship with a fighting fourth place while Mike Robinson ran in a fairly lonely fifth position all the way through. Daniel Lloyd came back from a disappointing qualifying day on Saturday to take a hard fought 11th place finish and remain inside the series top 10.

Speaking on his first win, Tordoff said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to be on the top step of the podium, it’s a great feeling. We’ve been fast in practice all year but never quite got it together in qualifying when it mattered. This weekend we were second on the grid yesterday and on pole today, it just makes things so much easier when you start at the front. To be on the podium on Saturday was a huge relief and I think that gave me the confidence to lead from the front today.”

Reflecting on the entire team performance in both G50 Cup and Clio Cup this weekend, TCR team principal Lee Brookes commented: “Sam’s win in Clios was absolutely superb and added to Alex’s victory on Saturday and Carl’s three wins in the G50 Cup, it couldn’t have been much better for the team. Five wins from five races across two championships is outstanding, we’re delighted.

“In Clios, I’m confident we have a team now where any one of the four drivers can win. Alex, and now Sam, have both won races and Daniel and Mike have shown they each have the pace to do the same. We’re still not sure what the problem was for Daniel in qualifying but we’ll sort that out.”

Brookes added: “In Ginetta, Carl had a terrific weekend and he pulled a massive gap back to the championship leader. We can definitely still win the title. Fulvio drove a blinder today as well, he’s proven this weekend he can run with the podium drivers. Unfortunately Joachim wasn’t feeling too well all weekend but he still did a good job. Now we’re looking forward to Knockhill in two weeks.”

TCR’s next track action will come with rounds 18, 19 and 20 of the Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup which will take place at Knockhill Circuit in Scotland a fortnight from now, 15th/16th August. Two weeks on from the Knockhill event, the ELF Renault Clio Cup will reconvene with the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship package at Silverstone National Circuit over the weekend 29th/30th August.

Provisional 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup Standings (after Rd14):
Drivers: 2nd Alex MacDowall, 326pts; 5th Mike Robinson, 215pts; 8th Sam Tordoff, 186pts; 10th Daniel Lloyd, 155pts
Team: 2nd Total Control Racing, 624pts

Provisional 2009 Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup Standings (after Rd17 – Rd11 yet to be rescheduled):
Drivers: 2nd Carl Breeze, 446pts; 5th Fulvio Mussi, 251pts; 10th Joachim Ritter, 170pts
Teams: 1st Total Control Racing

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

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.

Carl Breeze - G50 Cup WinnerSnetterton Circuit in Norfolk proved to be a very happy hunting ground for crack motor racing squad Total Control Racing earlier today, Saturday, 1st August, with the team winning not only round 13 of the ELF Renault Clio Cup but also the 15th and 16th rounds of the Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup.

On a simply outstanding day for the Wednesbury-based outfit, Carlisle teenager Alex MacDowall claimed his third victory of the year in an action-packed and rain-shortened Clio Cup encounter and he was also joined on the podium by rookie team-mate Sam Tordoff, the Leeds racer taking his first ever podium with a superb second position and backing it up with the fastest lap of the race.

After taking pole position for round 13 with a fastest time of 1m17.872 seconds (90.23mph) during this morning’s qualifying session, at the start of the race MacDowall made a textbook start to lead as light rain started to fall and threatened to make conditions very tricky indeed.

Behind, championship leader Philip Glew managed to get ahead of Tordoff at the start – the TCR ace having qualified second on the grid – while Mike Robinson held on to his starting place of ninth.

For rapid rookie Daniel Lloyd, what started as a very positive weekend during testing soon became a luckless disappointment when he was punted out of the race at the first corner. Third fastest during the opening pre-event practice and then finishing sixth in session two, a tricky qualifying session placed him mid-grid but he was hit at Riches Corner and forced into an immediate retirement.

Following a couple of laps behind the Safety Car to enable Lloyd’s car to be retrieved, at the re-start MacDowall got away well and led in worsening conditions all the way to the Bomb Hole on lap 10 when Glew managed to slither past.

Less than a lap later though, Glew pushed too hard at the Esses to try and fend off MacDowall and got his car sideways as the TCR star moved ahead once more. He was followed through by team-mate Tordoff and the pair remained first and second to the finish on lap 14 when red flags were shown due to the increasing rainfall.

Therefore, the finishing order was taken from the positions on lap 13 which still meant MacDowall won, Tordoff was second and Robinson came through to finish in eighth position, also moving him up into the championship top five.

Commenting, MacDowall said: “The conditions were very tricky, the rain got quite bad as the race wore on and it was especially slippery at the Esses. When (Philip) Glew got by me I tried to get back at him as quickly as possible and at the Esses on the next lap he just went in too hot and I was able to get back ahead. I’m really pleased with our third win, the team did a great job with the car.”

Podium debutant Tordoff added: “It was a very hard race but I kept it all together and managed to stick with Alex (MacDowall) and Phil (Glew). It was a case of waiting for either of them to make a mistake really. We’ve had the pace all weekend and considering it’s my first year in cars, let alone in Clios, I think we’re doing a good job.”

Breeze returns to winning ways with memorable Snetterton double

Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup title challenger Carl Breeze was in totally dominant form at Snetterton today, taking three pole positions in qualifying for rounds 15, 16 and 17 of the season and backing them up with victory in the first two races.

After an unbelievably difficult couple of months, namely a huge accident at Oulton Park at the end of May and a subsequent crash at Croft in mid-June which did little to aid the healing process, Breeze arrived at his home track this weekend fully recuperated and immediately returned to winning ways.

Dominating qualifying, the TCR star pressed home his advantage with two fantastic performances in rounds 15 and 16 to close to within 27 points of current series leader Nathan Freke. Challenged fairly hard by Christian Dick in the opening encounter, the team mechanics made some changes to Breeze’s car for race two which he won by 11 seconds and in which he also posted a new lap record.

Team-mate Fulvio Mussi finished a fine fifth in round 15 after a good drive from eighth on the grid while in round 16 a potential career best finish of second place behind Breeze was taken away after Mussi was adjudged to have lined up in an incorrect position on the grid. Although taking the chequered flag in second position, a 10 second penalty was added to his time dropping him to sixth.

Danish racer Joachim Ritter, meanwhile, finished ahead of former British Touring Car Championship driver Charlie Butler-Henderson in ninth place during the first outing and managed another top 10 in round 16 to consolidate 10th overall in the championship standings.

Speaking after his double win, Breeze said: “It’s good to reward the TCR boys with a couple of wins and great to bounce back after the disappointments of Oulton and Croft. We made some changes to the car for the second race to find some more speed and the team deserves all of the credit as it gave us an extra three 10ths of a second. It’s been a great day, hopefully tomorrow will be too.”

Reflecting on TCR’s day in both the Ginetta G50 Cup and Clio Cup, TCR team principal Lee Brookes commented: “We’re absolutely made up with Carl’s two wins in the G50 races today, he performed very well indeed, and in the second race Fulvio did a great job as well. It was just a shame he was out of position on the grid at the start, he was gutted about that. Joachim had a couple of good runs too.

“In Clios it was a very bad day for Daniel, we’re so disappointed for him. On the other side of things Alex did everything right to win again and Mike took another solid finish. The day belonged to Sam though, out of all of the drivers I think he surprised people the most and to take his first podium and be on pole position for Sunday’s race is a great achievement.”

Round 14 of the ELF Renault Clio Cup is timetabled to take place at 11.55 tomorrow, Sunday, 2nd August, with round 17 of the Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup set to begin at 13.35. Please check listings for details of live television coverage on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channel ITV4.

Provisional 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup Standings (after Rd13):
Drivers: 2nd Alex MacDowall, 302pts; 5th Mike Robinson, 195pts; 9th Sam Tordoff, 154pts; 10th Daniel Lloyd, 145pts
Team: 2nd Total Control Racing, 570pts

Provisional 2009 Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup Standings (after Rd16 – Rd11 yet to be rescheduled):
Drivers: 2nd Carl Breeze, 410pts; 5th Fulvio Mussi, 228pts; 10th Joachim Ritter, 160pts
Team: 1st Total Control Racing

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.