Alex MacDowall secured his first outright top ten finish during round nine of the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship from the Hungaroring, his first outright top ten finish since the season opener at Monza back in March.
Following on from the Slovakian weekend, the trip to Hungary marked the twenty one year olds’ first trip to the Hungarian Grand Prix venue and he started the weekend with a solid run in the two practice sessions and he finished eighth fastest in the second session.
Qualifying saw MacDowall progress through to the second stage after he finished the session as one of the twelve fastest drivers and the bamboo engineering driver finished eleventh fastest, which gave him a sixth row start for rounds nine and ten.
“Qualifying is what we need to work on, we need to put a lot of focus on sorting out a better set-up for that as it’s our main problem”, explained MacDowall. “On the Yokohamas you’ve got one real shot at your quick lap, you have to be very slow on the warm-up lap to look after the tyres – there’s such a small window of performance. If we can get our qualifying set-up sorted for the next one, we’ll be ok.”
Warm and sunny conditions welcomed the WTCC field for rounds nine and ten and off the rolling start; MacDowall worked his way into the top ten after cars ahead of him collided.
The British driver was soon on the tail of his British compatriot James Nash in the Team Aon Ford Focus and the two of them ran nose to tail before the Chevrolet driver looked to pass Nash on the outside of turn two.
Unable to take the position from Nash, the fight between the two of them allowed local hero Norbert Michelisz to catch up and the BMW driver moved into eighth at the final hairpin.
The following corner saw MacDowall cut back on Nash but the Ford driver held the inside for corner two. Undeterred, MacDowall went round the outside of Nash to secure ninth overall and fourth in the Yokohama Independents’ class.
Round ten saw MacDowall drop back to twelfth heading through turns one and two but he soon moved up a position after Darryl O’Young made a mistake up at the chicane.
Having moved into P11, MacDowall stayed in the same position for the rest of the race but ended with a fastest lap which was just 0.2s of Championship leader Yvan Muller.
I don’t think the weekend went too badly to be honest”, commented Alex, “We didn’t get the sort of results we wanted, we should have been fighting for a couple of top three Independents finishes at least, but it was a lot better than the last round so we’ve got to be fairly happy about that. Our race pace is good, we weren’t far away at all with that, but qualifying is where we need to improve.”
Next up is a trip to Austria and the Salzburgring for rounds eleven and twelve of the 2012 World Touring Car Championship. Salzburgring is the second of four new circuits in the 2012 season and it’ll be the first World Championship car race meeting to have been held at the circuit.