Justin Dowel and Matt Lee have recorded their best ever result in the Australian Rally Championship, finishing the first leg of the Rally of Queensland in a brilliant second place.
 
Driving their Activ RallySport Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, the Victorians finished the day’s 10 special stages three minutes behind winner Simon Evans, but more importantly, over 20 seconds in front of local hot-shot Ryan Smart who had suffered a puncture earlier in the day.
 

 

With the event also a round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, another Victorian, Glen Raymond took second placed points for the day, with stage times just ahead of Dowel.
 
After winning a stage at the previous round in South Australia, Dowel and Lee have once again proven that they are genuine championship contenders.
 
Rally Queensland got under way last night with two tarmac special stages, before eight gravel stages today saw crews tackle a total of 136 kilometres of competitive driving.
 
After monsoonal conditions leading up to the rally, and during the pre-event test, weather conditions were almost perfect on the first day.
 
Dowel was fifth and sixth fastest on the first two gravel stages of the day, but a few desperately needed suspension tweaks transformed the Lancer at the first service break.
 
He was immediately second fastest on the following 14 kilometre stage, then finished the remaining five stages in third place, securing his best ARC result to date.
 
“It’s been a fantastic day, and everything has gone as planned,” Dowel said. “The whole team did a lot of hard work between the previous round in South Australia, and this event in Queensland, and it has paid dividends.
 
“We started cautiously on the first few stage, but once we changed the suspension set-up to better suit the conditions, the car was a real rocket.
 
“Going in to the event we knew we had a car that was more than capable of finishing on the podium. It was just a matter of Matt and I putting in some consistent stage times and giving the crew the result that they fully deserve.”
 
Co-driver Matt Lee agreed, adding the Dowel put in his most mature drive yet.
 
“It’s been a great day, and full credit to the whole team,” Lee said. “Justin drove brilliantly throughout today’s stages, and everything went according to plan.
 
“We are refining the detail in our pacenotes at every event, and this hopefully continues to move us into a position to finish on the podium more regularly.
 
“We just need to make sure that we do a good job again tomorrow, and back up what has been a superb day.”
 
The second day of Rally Queensland will competitors tackle a further eight gravel stages, with a competitive distance of 131 kilometres. The final stage of the day, at 35 kilometres, is the day’s longest, ensuring that competitors need to push right to the very end of this, the fifth round of the Australian Rally Championship.
 
2010 Rally of Queensland – Heat 1 results - ARC
1. Simon Evans / Sue Evans, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 1h25m52.5s
2. Justin Dowel / Matt Lee, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, +3m20.7s
3. Ryan Smart / Rebecca Smart, Toyota Corolla Sportivo, +3m42.5s
4. Mark Pedder / Lee Tierney, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +3m50.8s
5. Eli Evans / Glen Weston, Honda Civic Type R, +4m45.2s
6. Steven Shepheard / John McCarthy, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, +5m18.7s

Photo by Michael Vettas

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