After having been the top Yokohama Trophy driver in every test session on Thursday, WTCC graduate Alex MacDowall is confident of strong results on his début weekend in the World Touring Car Championship.
MacDowall has consistently been one of the faster drivers so far this weekend, lapping as the best non-works driver in four out of the five sessions in Thursday testing. Following the two practice sessions, in which the Carlisle racer was 11th and 7th respectively, MacDowall is hoping that he can adapt quickly to the different qualifying format presented by the WTCC.
“I think from the way testing’s been going we’ve got the car underneath us and its just getting that little fine tuning element that you need to perfect,” said MacDowall to Touring-Cars.Net. With the qualifying format for the WTCC being different to the BTCC, which operates a 30-minute standard session, MacDowall is aware that there is little room for error.
“I’m still getting used to the tracks and the tyres, obviously you run tyre warmers in the WTCC, so on that first lap you’re trying not to to take too much out of the tyres whereas before you crossed the tyres and had to get a lot of temperature in,” added MacDowall. “It’s tuning into that, getting into a good rhythym and I think there’s still more time in me so I think we can be top Independent… but I want to beat the works guys! We’ve still got a few tweaks we can do before qualifying and then we’ll practice towing as well which we’ve got to do around here.”
MacDowall, who has not raced on any European circuits before, is pleased to be making his début at Monza. However he is aware of the importance of towing – something less common in the BTCC around the relatively short, twistier circuits.
“It’s a nice track to come to, Monza, for your first race because there’s not too much to learn – there’s a lot of straights. The tow around here is crucial so you could be not that quick around the track but if you get an awesome tow you could be P1. Pasquale [Di Sabatino] has been on the end of us and we switch formation, me and [Rickard] Rydell, whereas Pasquale just stays behind. You only get one lap – after that the tyres have gone off. You may as well come in, do another set and go again. But it’s getting into Q2 so if we think we’ve got enough pace we can just save the tyres.”
MacDowall’s target for qualifying is to be the top independent. “I also put a lot of pressure on myself to try and top that and be P1. I’ve done it in the BTCC so to do it in the WTCC would be nice.”
Finally MacDowall had positive words for his new team-mate Di Sabatino. “Pasquale has been going well so hopefully if he gets to the sharp end he’ll bring the team on quite a lot.”
Qualifying takes place at 1430 CET this afternoon.