Moscow Raceway in Russia will welcome the FIA World Touring Car Championship for the first time next weekend, 8th/9th June, where Carlisle’s Alex MacDowall aims to hoist himself back up the points tables in the main WTCC title race and the Yokohama Independents Trophy.
Marking a completely new adventure for the entire WTCC grid, the category’s maiden visit to the 2.46-mile circuit in Volokolamsk – Russia’s first modern, permanent racetrack – could deliver some surprises with nobody quite sure how the race weekend will evolve.
Opened in July last year, with construction having started in 2008, Moscow Raceway has already hosted some of the globe’s biggest motorsport events including the World Series by Renault package and the FIM World Superbike Championship.
“It’s difficult to know what to expect next weekend”, said Alex, “It all depends who gets used to the track the quickest, it’s quite tight and twisty but there is a really long straight which should play to our hand. The twisty bits won’t really help us due to the [compensation] weight we have to carry but I’m going out there with the intention of getting on the podium and fighting for Independents wins.”
Ahead of rounds 11 and 12 of the season, Chevrolet Cruze driver Alex is third in the Independents standings with two class wins and seven class podiums. In the battle for overall WTCC honours, the Cumbrian is seventh in the standings with two outright podiums to his credit so far.
Despite producing the pace to add to his podium tally at the Salzburgring a fortnight ago, any hopes were dashed by a bizarre set of circumstances in qualifying. As Chevrolet driver Tom Chilton backed up the entire field in order to prevent anyone gaining a ‘tow’, it resulted in a train of cars crawling at slow speed. Unimpressed, race officials imposed a series of grid penalties and fines.
“Austria was crazy”, explained Alex, “It was just a set of circumstances really, a unique track where everyone needs a tow in qualifying and it all got a bit messy. [Tom] Chilton got the message over his radio to hold everyone up and then we all ended up with fines and penalties! I don’t know if all of the penalties will change anything, it was just a unique situation.
“We should have scored more points, what happened robbed us of a podium, so we need to make amends for that. We’ve been a bit unlucky this year, they say you make your own luck but there wasn’t a lot I could do about all of that in Austria! I’m sure we’ll be competitive in Russia, it should be good.”
Following a brief half-hour test session on Friday, 7th June, the FIA World Touring Car Championship competitors will benefit from two free practice sessions on Saturday, 8th June, which will precede qualifying at 14.30 (local time).
Round 11 of the season will get underway at 13.20 (10.20 UK time) with round 12 set to begin at 14.20 (11.20 UK time). All of the action will be screened live on British Eurosport with the addition of online streaming through the Eurosport Player service – visit www.eurosportplayer.co.uk
2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd10):
7th Alex MacDowall, 73pts
2013 FIA WTCC Yokohama Independents Trophy Driver Standings (after Rd10):
3rd Alex MacDowall, 66pts