The Activ RallySport team Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX will be a notable absence from this weekend’s third round of the Australian Rally Championship in Coffs Harbour.

Team driver, Justin Dowel, and co-driver, Matt Lee, announced their reluctant last-minute decision to withdraw from the event following a team meeting to discuss the status of preparations earlier this week.

However, the team will return to the championship in South Australia with a steely determination to challenge for victories.

After a break-through podium finish at the first round in Tasmania, Dowel and Lee retired from the following event in Western Australia after an off-road excursion.

The repairs needed to the team’s Lancer were more extensive than originally anticipated, and while team chief John Down was confident of having the car ready in time for the start, the team decided earlier this week to withdraw their entry and to focus on the continued development of their car.

“While we felt we could most likely put a competitive car on the road, we thought that our overall preparations and prospects for a strong result would still not be to the high standard at which we wish to operate,” Justin Dowel said today.

“Therefore the decision was taken to withdraw our entry and shift our focus to a 100 per cent completion of the repairs.”

Following their Coffs Harbour withdrawal, Dowel and Lee are planning a two-day suspension and tyre test prior to the fourth round of the championship, the Rally of South Australia in June.

“While it’s disappointing not to be competing at Coffs Harbour this weekend, a thorough regroup and testing program is the biggest consideration,” Dowel added.

“But rest assured, we’ll be back with plans for a Heat win and podium places during the remainder of the season.”

In the meantime, Dowel will return to Cambodia for a further week, working with the Cambodian Children’s Fund.

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