Alex MacDowall rounded out the European leg of the 2012 World Touring Car Championship with two strong performances around the Portimao circuit, after a difficult qualifying session for the 21 year old.
The bamboo engineering racer secured his fourth Yokohama Independents’ podium finish of the campaign during round 14 and he finished the race with the third fastest outright lap and fastest of the Independent runners.
The Cumbrian narrowly missed out on a class podium in round 13, having finished 0.6s behind the third place Yokohama Independent driver.
Qualifying for the first of Sunday’s races saw MacDowall fail to make it out of Q1; having been on course to move into Q2, he made a mistake in the final part of the lap and lost 0.15s, enough to deny him a top twelve position. He finished the session 15th fastest and ninth Independent on the grid.
Come race day, MacDowall showed his pace by finishing the 15 minute warm up session fifth fastest overall and top Independent and he took his warm up form into the final two European races of 2012.
At the start of round 13, the Cumbrian driver made up a couple of positions through turn one and then found himself ninth overall and third in class, having avoided the midfield mayhem.
MacDowall soon moved into eighth and then set about chasing down local driver Tiago Monteiro but stern defence from the Portuguese driver meant that MacDowall was soon in the clutches of Alberto Cerqui in the ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC.
Cerqui prised open the door and took eighth from the British driver and Pepe Oriola followed suit and demoted MacDowall to tenth overall, fourth in the Independents. MacDowall tried to fight back and retake the position from the Spanish youngster but in doing so, he allowed Salzburgring winner Stefano D’Aste to close up. MacDowall took the flag tenth overall, fourth in class but with the first fastest Independents lap.
Round fourteen saw MacDowall line up 15th again and he held position during the early stages. He then benefitted from carnage in the midfield to move into 11th overall and fifth in class.
The third lap saw MacDowall move into ninth and third Yokohama Independent driver, and he set about chasing down Monteiro once again, and on lap six he moved ahead of the SEAT driver.
A recovering Norbert Michelisz bundled the Brit back down to ninth and fourth in class – plus additional rear bumper damage. MacDowall soon retook eighth from the Hungarian driver before Michelisz retook the position – MacDowall then moved into eighth with the demise of Gabriele Tarquini.
MacDowall secured seventh on the final lap having passed the BMW driver, and this left him third in the Independents. The weekend’s results have seen MacDowall move into the top five of the Yokohama Independents and 13th in the overall drivers’ Championship.
“It’s been a good weekend, we had to work for it but we’ve proven we’ve got good race craft and we had really good race pace – especially in the second one”, said the 21-year-old, “Getting another top three in the Independents Trophy is great, and fastest lap in class is always good, plus we scored a good few points in the championship. It’s nice to go into the break off such a positive weekend.”
The FIA World Touring Car Championship now has a seven week break before rounds 15 and 16 from Brazil and the Curitiba circuit, over the 21/22 July.