Alex MacDowall Blog: Oulton, Croft And Catching Up

Hi everyone,

It's been really busy the past few weeks on and off the track. Last Wednesday I was at Bedford Aerodrome with the BRDC Superstars for a Tag Heuer corporate day. Tag Heuer are the official sponsors for the Superstars this year and it's great to see there is interest out there for young talent.

When I arrived I was introduced to the MD of Tag Heuer and he presented a watch to me and said it was mine. It's the official F1 watch, the one which sponsors Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button – it's very nice and will have a good home on my wrist! The event was split into different teams, I was in Team Lauda with Tim Harvey and the MD of Tag Heuer so the pressure to do well was on.

Most of the other teams were made up of Tag Heuer dealers from all over the country but there were also a few retired sports stars there, like Iwan Thomas, Kenny Logan and Jeremy Guscott. During the day we got to drive BMW M3 GT cars, single-seaters and some off-road Land Rovers. It was a great day with lots of driving to be done.

Now on to the Oulton Park BTCC weekend. For the first time in years it was wet on the Sunday with lots of tricky tyre choices to make. I was starting from seventh on the grid and the track was damp but there was no standing water. I went out with slick fronts and wet rears for the formation lap but I was struggling to put the power down. I decided to choose for wet tyres all around which was the right call for the time.

Most of the opposition in front had wets on, apart from (Gordon) Shedden on pole who had slick fronts and wet rears. During the race the car felt really strong and I was all over Andy Neate in the Ford for two laps before getting a good run down to Knickerbrook and I out-braked him on the outside. I was now up into fourth position and hunting down Matt Neal. I could see Matt was struggling with the wet tyres and I knew he was 70kg heavier than my Chevrolet Cruze so I was very patient to pick my moment. I gave him a little rub into Island and got up his inside on the run down to Knickerbrook. The podium was getting closer and I wanted to catch Jason (Plato) but he was to far ahead by the time I worked my way up the order. It was great to get a podium finish and prove the pace is still there.

Races one and two were pretty similar with the weather conditions and the track was still damp. In race two I went out with slick front tyres and wets on the rear again. I could sense there was more grip so decided to stick with the slicks which Shedden won the first race with. I made a better start this time but had to back out of it to avoid hitting my team-mate who blocked me. I dropped down to fifth and had to work hard to fend off Matt Neal behind. His car was like a hotrod on the straights and just drove past me – there was nothing I could do which is so frustrating.

I was all over (Andrew) Jordan's back bumper for most of the race but I didn't want to pass him so I could get a good reverse grid slot. Towards the end of the race I saw two white cars in the gravel and as I got closer I realised it was the two Hondas. They had taken each other out from a 1-2 finish! I had a big smile on my face and finished the race in fifth.

The last race was looking good and I was hunting down Jordan for a podium finish until the gear leaver snapped off again, just like at Snetterton last year. It is so frustrating when you're trying your hardest and then it gets ruined by a mechanical failure. Overall it wasn't a bad weekend but I know I can improve and be stronger. After Oulton we had Croft but that wasn't the best of weekends!

Over the seven week break since then, I have been at work and going to the gym six days a week. I also like to use the break from racing to catch up with friends and relatives. I went to Goodwood for the Festival of Speed and drove the Cruze up the hill twice. It's a great event with lots of old and new cars to look at. Me and a friend went to watch the WTCC round at Donington which was a great weekend for Chevrolet.

Between now and Snetterton I am going to Cyprus for a week and the day after I get back I will be at Snetterton for a trackday. I havn't been around the new layout yet so it will be good to see how it has turned out. The week after that, we're back in action at Snetterton for meeting number six of the year – I can't wait for that.