Carlisle racing driver Alex MacDowall will make the leap onto the global stage this year after today, Monday, 27th February, confirming a deal to graduate into the FIA World Touring Car Championship with front-running British team Bamboo Engineering.
Putting an end to recent speculation over whether or not he would remain in the British Touring Car Championship in 2012 following the withdrawal of the RML-run Chevrolet team, the 21-year-old will step-up to world level competition with his debut taking place at Monza in Italy on 10th/11th March.
Continuing his association with the Chevrolet brand, Alex – who arrives in the World Championship off the back of two impressive seasons in the BTCC – will pilot a 1.6-litre turbo-engined Cruze, in which he will enjoy his maiden shakedown test later this week.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be representing Bamboo Engineering in the WTCC this year”, said the Cumbrian star, “It’s great to be continuing my relationship with Chevrolet and I can’t wait to drive the 1.6 turbo Cruze, it’s a fantastic racecar and it’s a dream come true being able to compete in the World Championship with such a great team.
“I really enjoyed my two years in the BTCC and I’ll miss the fans, my supporters and the sponsors who helped me achieve the success and experience I gained there. Moving into the WTCC is a massive opportunity though and could be a major turning point for my career. We’re aiming for some top results.”
Stepping into touring cars with the RML-run Chevrolet squad in 2010 off the back of becoming ELF Renault Clio Cup Vice-Champion the year before, Alex quickly got to grips with the BTCC and his talent shone through with two podium results in his maiden season in the championship.
Most notably, he entered the record books as the youngest ever driver to qualify on pole position in the BTCC with an outstanding performance in the wet at Snetterton in Norfolk, aged just 19 years and 197 days.
In 2011, Alex remained in the championship with RML and Chevrolet in a normally aspirated car. The introduction of turbo engines into the BTCC meant the team faced an uphill battle all year but, even so, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star managed to achieve three podium finishes on his way to ninth in the standings.
New challenges galore for 2012 While Alex is obviously very familiar with the Chevrolet Cruze, his 2012 adventure will bring with it a variety of fresh challenges – not least the 12 international race circuits which will all be completely new to the WTCC rookie.
Visiting Italy, Spain, Morocco, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Portugal, Brazil, America, Japan, China and the world-famous street circuit in Macau, the FIA World Touring Car Championship is a lengthy season – running from March to November.
Aside from learning each of the new tracks he visits Alex will also need to adapt to the use of Yokohama tyres, having run on Dunlop rubber for the past two years in the BTCC and Michelin tyres before that in the Renault Clio Cup.
With regard to the championship battle, as a non-manufacturer entry Silverstone-based Bamboo will compete for the Yokohama Independents Trophy and team principal Richard Coleman is confident regarding the squad’s title-challenging chances.
“This will be Bamboo’s third assault on the Yokohama Independents Trophy and our aim every year is to be competing for the trophy”, said Coleman, “Alex has proved himself in the BTCC over the last two seasons and I’m sure he’ll shine at world level as well.”
Following this week’s initial shakedown at Rockingham, Alex will prepare for the first two races of the season at Monza in Italy. Free practice and qualifying will take place on Saturday, 10th March, with warm-up and rounds one and two taking place on Sunday, 11th March. Television coverage of the WTCC will be screened in the UK on British Eurosport.