British Touring Car Championship rookie Alex MacDowall fired a warning shot to the rest of the field at the official test at Snetterton yesterday after finishing second fastest behind the Team Aon Ford Focus of Tom Chilton.

Nearly five weeks have passed since MacDowall was behind the wheel of his Chevrolet Cruze at Croft, but the mid-season break seems to have energised MacDowall.

During the morning session the 19-year-old topped the time sheets with 1:11.958 around the 1.95 mile Norfolk circuit. The Carlisle-based driver completed a total of 41 laps in the 3 hours sesion to finish ahead of Paul O’Neill by just 0.013, with Chevy team-mate Jason Plato just a further 0.003 seconds adrift.

The afternoon session was disrupted by heavy rain over the lunchbreak, so with this in mind MacDowall concentrated on practicing wet-weather starts.

Engine problems would lead to an early end to MacDowall’s day but he came away from the session in a positive mood.

“We were very pleased to be quickest during the morning session, everything went well and the pace was good but it was very close”, he said. “The track was really wet in the afternoon so there was no point taking any risks, especially as the first session went so well, so I just practiced some starts. All in all, I was really happy with the day.”

Despite showing pace throughout the year MacDowall is still searching for his maiden win. Snetterton brings a very real chance of this happening and the RML driver is focused already.

“I really want to try and qualify on the first two rows at Snetterton to give ourselves the best chance of fighting for a win”, said MacDowall, “We qualified in the top four at the previous two events so that has to be the aim again. It's been good to be back in the car after such a long break and to have been so quick was great. The Fords will be really fast but I think we can definitely challenge for the podium.”

Rounds 16, 17 and 18 of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place over the weekend 7th/8th August at Snetterton. All three raceday encounters will be screened live in the UK on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channel ITV4.