British racer Alex MacDowall says he is ‘more determined than ever’ to make a return to success in 2022, after signing-off a frustrating Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup season on Sunday, 10th October, at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain.
Carlisle’s MacDowall, who won the Silver Cup crown in 2020, had to settle for an 11th place class result in the fifth and final race of the campaign after again struggling with the grip and handling of the No.159 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 he shared with Nicolai Kjaergaard and Valentin Hasse-Clot.
After a tougher than expected campaign in GTWCE Endurance, a year which delivered just one Silver Cup podium result in the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa mid-season, MacDowall is already setting his sights on next year as he plans to hit back strongly in 2022.
“I didn’t expect this season to be as bad as it turned out to be, we just couldn’t compete with the Lamborghinis and Mercedes”, said MacDowall, “You’re there to win, to do the best you can, but when the car isn’t there for you it’s quite demoralising. It’s been one of those years, I’m glad it’s over to be honest so we can focus on 2022 instead.
“We’re obviously disappointed how this year has turned out, especially after winning the Silver Cup championship with Lamborghini last season, but the disappointment of a bad season only makes you hungrier and more determined than ever. It’s been good teaming with Val [Hasse-Clot] and Nicolai [Kjaergaard], but we just haven’t had the package we needed.”
Sixth fastest in the Silver Cup in free practice on Saturday, 9th October, the Garage 59 trio placed an improved fourth in class in pre-qualifying and 12th overall. Final qualifying was challenging once again for the Aston Martin team-mates, and they emerged from Sunday morning’s three sessions 12th quickest in the Silver class and 31st on the overall grid.
With a lot of work to do, Kjaergaard took the first stint of the race but a robust opening lap led to a slip back to 14th in the Silver Cup and 40th position overall. Making progress thereafter, the Dane moved up into the class top 10 and 27th in the outright classification ahead of the first pit stops.
Staying on track longer than most of the rival entries, Kjaergaard moved into second in class and eighth overall before eventually pitting after the one-hour mark. Hasse-Clot took over for the second stint and held 10th in Silver and 26th overall.
Into ninth in class around the midway point of the three-hour encounter, Hasse-Clot remained on track – as Kjaergaard had done – longer than the other Silver Cup competitors and took the class lead as a result, ninth overall. He pitted on lap 66 to hand over the car to MacDowall.
Holding 13th in Silver and 30th position in the outright order with 55 minutes of racing to go, the Cumbrian quickly gained two class and overall positions but had a challenge on his hands with the grip of the Aston Martin proving troublesome.
Battling on to the chequered flag at the end of the third hour, MacDowall ended the fifth and final race of the season in 11th place in the Silver Cup and inside the overall top 30. Far from the result he wanted, MacDowall was simply relieved the season was at a conclusion.
“At high grip tracks, like Spa, the problems with the handling were masked really but at low grip tracks – like this weekend – it’s a handful you’re fighting all the time”, he reflected, “You can’t carry speed through the corners and it takes everything to keep the car on track and out of the barriers to be honest. It’s a shame this year turned out how it did, but onward and upward to next season.”
GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup ‘Silver Cup’ Standings
14th Alex MacDowall/Valentin Hasse-Clot/Nicolai Kjaergaard, 32pts
Source. Marc Orme/Photo. SRO Motorsports Group