MACDOWALL AIMING TO CLIMB BACK UP POINTS TABLE IN SLOVAKIA One of Europe’s longest race tracks, the Slovakia Ring near Bratislava, will be the venue for the fourth race meeting of the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship next weekend, 28th/29th April, where Alex MacDowall aims to fight his way back up the Yokohama Independents Trophy standings.Despite showing fantastic pace in qualifying last time out at the Marrakech street circuit in Morocco, the Chevrolet Cruze driver had two desperately unfortunate races – not least round six where terminal mechanical failure robbed him of turning a third row start into a strong result. Ultimately, that led to Alex only scoring three Independents class points across the entire weekend.Even so, such was his excellent start to his debut season in the WTCC at Monza back in March, the Carlisle racer has still been able to retain fifth in the Independents title race. In Slovakia, he is fully focused on recovering some of the ground lost in Valencia and Marrakech to the BMWs and SEATs.
“The last couple of events have been a bit unfortunate, it all went pretty much to plan at Monza but it’s been a bit downhill from there since so the aim next weekend is to try and get back to where we were at Monza”, said the 21-year-old, “I need to start fighting my way back up the points in the Independents championship, we just need to turn a good qualifying into two strong race results.
“I know I’m just as good as the other Independent guys, they’ve just got more experience in WTCC and that’s all the difference has been. We’re getting there though, hopefully in Slovakia we’ll be able to have another good qualifying, like in Marrakech, but turn it into some big points finishes.”At almost six kilometers in length, the Slovakia Ring is one of Europe’s longest race circuits and next weekend’s event will actually mark the first time the track has appeared on the WTCC schedule. For that reason, each driver will be starting on a level playing field in terms of track knowledge.There won’t be any additional testing time other than the usual pair of free practice sessions to enable the competitors to get up-to-speed though, meaning there is likely to be a lot of focus on finding good race set-ups – possibly at the exception of qualifying performance.“I’ve looked at the track on the internet through some You Tube videos and it does look quite twisty, so I think it will favour the BMWs”, said the Bamboo Engineering driver, “I think we still have a good chance to stick the car up there on the grid though in qualifying, that’s where we’ve been strong so far this year.“We don’t have any more testing than usual so working on race runs in the practice time we do have will be more important than going for qualifying pace. It’s an important weekend to get back up the points table, hopefully we’ll be able to do that and close the gap a bit.”Free practice at the Slovakia Ring is scheduled to take place at 08.45 (UK time) and 11.30 on Saturday, 28th April, with qualifying following at 14.00. After the usual 15-minute warm-up on raceday morning, Sunday, 29th April, rounds seven and eight – which will be screened live on the Eurosport television network – will be contested at 13.20 and 14.35 (UK time) respectively.2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd6):1st Yvan Muller, 130pts; 11th Alex MacDowall, 10pts
2012 FIA WTCC ‘Yokohama Independents Trophy’ Driver Standings (after Rd6):1st Pepe Oriola, 51pts; 5th Alex MacDowall, 19pts