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Alex MacDowall, Bamboo Engineering - Q&A
12 March 2013
Alex MacDowall is preparing for his second year as a FIA WTCC driver with Bamboo Engineering.
The 22-year-old from Carlisle, took time out between testing last week to speak to
about the season ahead.
Alex, the last time we saw you racing was at the legendary Macau circuit having a huge impact with the Armco barrier at quite a high speed for a saloon car, at that point after a solid debut WTCC season, did the crash shake you up and has it ruined confidence gained from last season?
It was the biggest impact I have ever had and could have easily injured me but somehow I escaped unhurt. It hasn't knocked my confidence and if anything it just proves how strong the cars really are and not to worry about the dangers to much.
It will always be in my mind now when I get to Macau but hopefully by then the season will be going in my favour.
As I've mentioned, you've had a very successful season for Bamboo engineering last year, driving a 2011 factory RML Chevrolet Cruze, scoring two Yokohama Trophy wins en route to fifth in class and twelve top ten finishes overall in the championship to end up joint 10th outright in the series, how would you sum up your first WTCC season?
I think for a first season it went to plan. I always knew it would be tough learning new circuits and getting used to a turbo powered engine for the first time. My main aim was just to finish as many races as I could and stay out of trouble which in the end has led to good results and as you say independent wins.
I know the Cruze really well so I could focus on getting the lines around each new circuit bang on. I gave it my all and I'm proud of the results looking back.
What results do you and your team, bamboo-engineering, expect for 2013?
There is a real buzz around the team this year and energy every time I meet up with them. Spirits are high and that's good for me as a driver to feel back at home and be in a happy environment.
I am continuing with my engineer from last year so we know how to address any problems we might come across better. We are in a very good car so there can only be one objective which is to win the independents championship and challenge for overall podiums.
I have a quick team mate this year who will be one to watch and he will not let the team down that's for sure.
How does the WTCC compare to BTCC?
The racing in the WTCC has a lot less contact because of the penalties being harsher. I would say at the front of the grid you have some really world class drivers. The independents championship for sure has a higher standard of drivers.
The BTCC has three races in the weekend so it's a lot more intense and in a way challenges the driver more to be consistent.
They are both great championships and have produced great champions.
Your new team mate for 2013, James Nash, like you is young and has a good amount of experience in touring car racing, how do you think he will fair in a car that he has never sat in before, compared to your 3 seasons in the Cruze?
I think it might take him time to get used to the Cruze and how to set it up so hopefully I will have the edge in the first few rounds.
Touring cars are very basic though and the Cruze is always a great package where ever we go. I think from the word go he will be quick and I will have to raise my game compared to last year which is an exciting challenge.
Does the loss of the factory team mean that you and bamboo gain anything over opposition?
No not at all and if anything it's a big loss. You could say we are now on more of a level playing field but having Chevrolet back in it would certainly benefit us.
We are an independent team and we have a car to challenge factory teams.
bamboo-engineering boss Richard Coleman, seems very supportive of younger drivers, has he helped you mature in anyway on and off the track?
He is a great help and always ready for the challenges. I think with Richard being quite young himself he likes to have younger drivers and maybe feels more comfortable dealing with the likes of me and James.
He is always telling me how good I am and gives me a nice positive message over the team radio as I am about to go on track.
In racing terms, where are your strengths and what areas do you think you can improve on?
I think my strengths are my Qualifying speed and consistency on track. I can improve on my race craft and standing starts. This is something I am working very hard as we speak to improve. I am still in the early parts of my career and I have had a steep learning curve which I think has made me a more mature driver.
I love high speed corners and any track that has a fast flowing characteristic I go really well on but if it's a tight twisty track I find it hard to bring myself back. Without admitting your weaknesses' you will never improve as I driver so I tack it on the chin and get on with it.
by Dexter Fielding
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