Activ RallySport driver Justin Dowel has crashed out of the Rally of South Australia after broken steering forced his Lancer Evolution IX off the road on the fifth stage of Heat 2.

Dowel and co-driver, Matt Lee, had been on target for second placing in the fourth round of the Australian Rally Championship, but a heavy landing after a jump caused a mechanical failure, ending their rally.

After a brilliant third placing in Heat 1, Dowel and Lee started the second heat with high hopes, but a turbo boost pipe came off on the first tarmac stage last night, dropping them to 16th place.

Lee quickly re-fitted the pipe and they managed to put in the third fastest time on the second running of the super special stage.

Cold and frosty conditions in the Barossa Valley this morning saw them come out of the blocks firing, intent on making up for lost time.

However, the first forest stage of the day was cancelled after front-runners Scott Pedder and Jon Mortimer hit a tree in their Mitsubishi. Pedder was airlifted to hospital with a suspected broken leg.

Dowel and Lee put in brilliant drives on the following two stages, setting the second fastest time, but things turned sour on the following 12km Kanmantoo stage.

“We had a very heavy landing after a ‘triple caution, crest’,” co-driver Matt Lee said.

“At this stage we’re not sure what happened, but it appears that the steering has broken when we landed.”

The next left hand corner was only 50 metres away, and despite Dowel’s best efforts, the Lancer failed to make the corner and made heavy contact with a tree.

Fortunately both Dowel and Lee suffered only bumps and bruises from the impact of the heavy landing and hitting the tree, but the damage to the Lancer was too much for them to continue.

“It’s a real shame,” Lee added. “Everything was going to plan. We were looking good for second place for the weekend, which would have been our best ARC result to date, but rallying can be a fickle sport, and today luck wasn’t on our side.

“While we’re disappointed with our result, we’d like to wish our friends Scott Pedder and Jon Mortimer all the best for a quick recovery,” he said.

The Activ RallySport team will now assess the damage to their Lancer Evo IX before the next round of the championship, the international Rally of Queensland, to be held on July 31 and August 1.
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