Activ RallySport driver Justin Dowel is gearing up for the biggest event on the 2010 Australian rally calendar, with Rally Queensland set to get underway on Friday evening.

Dowel and co-driver, Matt Lee, will start the fifth round of the 2009 Australian Rally Championship (ARC) out of the running for ARC, but are determined to push for a podium finish in the event.

This weekend's event is also round four of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, and while the APRC crews won't be eligible for national championship points, the Victorian duo will be keen to measure their speed against the region's best drivers.

After setting a fastest stage time at the last round of the ARC in South Australia, Dowel's push for a podium finish ended with broken steering on the second day. However, with his Mitsubishi Lancer IX now fixed, the Victorian is eagerly awaiting the start of Rally Queensland.

Dowel and Lee tested the Lancer in wet and slippery conditions yesterday, but came away from the test happy with the car's set-up.

“We used the same test road as we have done for the past couple of years in Queensland, and everything went really well,” Dowel said.

“It was bucketing down with rain, but that means we'll know what the road conditions will be like if the rally is wet.

“The stage we used, while not part of the rally route, is very similar to some of the stages and gave us a great indication of what to expect.”

The Activ RallySport team tested different patterns of the control Kumho tyre, opting for the more open tread pattern that will be more suitable in wet conditions. They also tested two different sets of suspension struts.

“We came up with a really good set-up, and the car is handling superbly,” Dowel added. “After broken steering saw us end Rally South Australia off the road, it's important to get back into the car and get your confidence back quickly.

“Hopefully the test has given us the ideal preparation for Rally Queensland.”

After the wet conditions in testing, co-driver Matt Lee says that making their pacenotes during the pre-event reconnaissance will be of utmost importance.

“We have a great set of pacenotes from previous years, and because some of the stages are being used again, it gives us a great head start,” Lee said.

“As we don't have any chance of a top three finish in the ARC's end of year standings, the rally will be about spending time in the car and improving things for the future.

“We know we have a car that is capable of finishing on the podium in the ARC this weekend, but the final result is secondary in our thoughts. The plan is to drive cleanly and concentrate on neat lines - if we do that then the final result should look after itself.”
Rally Queensland gets underway with a ceremonial start in Caloundra on Friday evening, followed by two short tarmac stages.

The action proper gets underway on Saturday morning in the forests around Imbil, with Heat 1 comprising eight gravel stages, for total competitive distance of 136.5 kilometres.

On Sunday a further eight stages and 131km of competitive driving awaits competitors, before the podium finish in Imbil.
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