Slovakia welcomes the FIA World Touring Car Championship next weekend, 27th/28th April, for the third event of the 2013 season, a race meeting which front-runner Alex MacDowall says will be the toughest of the year for his Bamboo Engineering team.
Offering a marked contrast to the high-speed nature of the first two tracks visited so far, Monza in Italy and Marrakech street circuit in Morocco, the 5.9-kilometre Slovakia Ring is tight and twisty and doesnt play to the strengths of the Carlisle racers Chevrolet Cruze.
Slovakia is one of my bogey tracks to be honest, it wasnt great for us last season but Im looking at it positively and aiming for two solid finishes, said the 22-year-old, Weve started this year with a much better level of performance so hopefully we can have a decent weekend, Ill be happy with a couple of overall top sixes really.
Arriving in Eastern Europe eighth in the main WTCC standings and in the top three of the Yokohama Independents Trophy title race, Alex has been ultra-quick so far this season and started the year with an outstanding performance in round one at Monza.
Racing to his first ever outright WTCC podium, and claiming the Independents Trophy victory, his sensational start to the year was unfortunately tempered by a non-finish in round two when he was forced to retire with a puncture following penultimate lap contact.
In Marrakech a fortnight ago, it was another mixed weekend for the Cumbrian where his clear pace wasnt rewarded as fully as it should have been. Taking his second Independents Trophy podium of the year in round three, Alex was again the victim of another drivers error in round four.
Disappointed to have lost vital championship points so early in the season through no fault of his own, the second year WTCC racer is determined to score as heavily as possible in Slovakia and make the best of what will be a very challenging weekend.
Last year in Slovakia was tough, even the works Chevys didnt qualify that well, he said, Its not a particularly strong circuit for our car, its like a twisty over-sized go-kart track. We wont really know until after qualifying how competitive well be.
I want to get two solid races under my belt, close the gap in the championship and take it from there. As theres only a week between Slovakia and the following round in Hungary, weve got to aim to take as many points as we can from this one and then go on the attack at the Hungaroring.
Following two 30-minute free practice sessions on Saturday, 27th April, qualifying at the Slovakia Ring will take place at 15.30 (local time). On Sunday, 28th April, morning warm-up will take place at 08.45 (local time) with round five scheduled to start at 14.50 (local time) and round six set to commence at 15.50 (local time). The weekends action will, as ever, be screened live on British Eurosport.
2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd4):8th Alex MacDowall, 26pts
2013 FIA WTCC Yokohama Independents Trophy Driver Standings (after Rd4):3rd Alex MacDowall, 20pts