Alex MacDowall - Photo Credit:

MacDowall was disappointed not to take fifth on the grid away from Rydell (behind) - Photo Credit:

bamboo engineering driver Alex MacDowall was left 'a little bit disappointed', despite qualifying eighth on the grid for his first race in the World Touring Car Championship.

The team had arrived at Monza fearing over their competitiveness after being laden with extra ballast, imposed for running the championship-winning Chevrolet Cruze. Former BTCC racer MacDowall soon dispelled these doubts though in testing on Thursday by being consistently amongst the top runners throughout the day.

In qualifying he took eighth on the grid, which will also mean he lines up third for the second race as a result of the reverse grid. However, a mistake during a quick lap in Q2 left him wondering what might have been.

“It's been a good start but I am a little bit disappointed as I am sure I could've been a lot higher,” said the Cumbrian. “I made a mistake on my second attempt at a fast lap in Q2 so I didn't get the best out of the tyres. Had that not happened I could've been up to about fifth and lead independent.

“But I know I will be in the mix tomorrow. I know I'm certainly at the same level as Oriola and I've got a tasty little P3 start for the second race so it's all to play for.”

MacDowall's teammate Pasquale di Sabatino is making his debut in touring cars on home soil after switching from single-seaters. He will start both races from 18th, and is pleased with his progress.

“I'm learning so much every time I get in the car,” he said. “It's a little bit like my first week at school, I pick up new things each time I go out.

“For me at the moment every little second of track time is vital, which is why I went out again at the end of Qualifying One [after a red flag, even though there was not enough time left to start a flying lap]. I am very excited for my first WTCC races tomorrow.”

Team principal Richard Coleman declared himself pleased after the session.

“It's a good start to the season. We were a little bit disappointed for Alex as had he not made that small mistake we are sure he could've displaced Rydell for fifth. As it is we know how strong he is looking around here so we're confident we can get a couple of great results tomorrow.

“Pasquale has made a fantastic start. He did a great job for his first ever round and is learning more and more each time he goes out. When he can string a full fast lap out he is going to be brilliant. I think there's a lot to come from him, and we're all impressed with his attitude and ability already. We're looking forward to two good races tomorrow for both drivers.”