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The Activ RallySport team of Justin Dowel and Matt Lee have finished eighth in the first round of the Australian Rally Championship, despite a weekend that saw them suffer two gearbox failures

Rally Tasmania was Dowel and Lee’s first taste of tarmac rally action, and they performed impressively on a surface that they admitted was not as enjoyable as the gravel they regularly compete on.

After two gearbox failures on day two of the three-day event forced them to miss several stages, they bounced back today, capitilising on the ARC’s pointscoring system to finish the weekend in eighth place.

“To get a solid points haul was really important to start the year,” Dowel said. “We were a little off the pace of where we wanted to be, but we have to remember that this is our first tarmac rally.

“Once we get on to the gravel at the next event in Canberra, we’re confident that we can be a lot closer to the leading teams and push for a podium finish.”

Over the final day’s six stages, the Activ RallySport Lancer Evo IX performed well. A small drop in power was fixed by adjusting the water spray onto the turbo intercooler, and Dowel was able to push hard to the finish.

“We’ve had our problems this weekend, but we’ve finished with a straight car, and that makes the preparation in the lead up to the next event in Canberra so much easier,” co-driver Matt Lee said.

“Justin drove well, and the team did an awesome job repairing the car during the weekend. It all bodes well for the rest of the season.”

The second round of the Australian Rally Championship is the Rally of Canberra, to be held in the nation’s capital on March 7 and 8.

Rally Tasmania – final results

Neal Bates / Coral Taylor, Toyota Corolla S2000, 

2. Simon Evans / Sue Evans, Toyota Corolla S2000, +10.5s

3. Eli Evans / Chris Murphy, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +36.4s

4. Brendan Reeves / Rhianon Smyth, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +2:40.0s 

5. Glen Raymond / Matt Raymond, Toyota Corolla Sportivo, +2:48.4s

1 Bates 77
2 Evans 71
3 E. Evans 60
4 Raymond 50
5 Reeves 46
6 Lowndes 41
7 Herridge 39
8 Dowel 31

Pic: Joel Strickland
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