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The Activ RallySport pairing of Justin Dowel and Matt Lee have finished Heat 1 of the Rally of Canberra in a brilliant fourth place.

Driving their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, Dowel and Lee finished in the top five in every one of the day’s seven stages, held in dry and dusty conditions around the nation’s capital city.

A roll in pre-event testing put the Activ RallySport team behind the eight ball as soon as they arrived in Canberra, but an incredible effort by the team soon had the Lancer Evo IX repaired in time and ready for Friday’s media day.

Dowel had predicted that he was going to up his speed now that the championship had returned to the gravel, after the first event in Tasmania was held on tarmac, and he didn’t disappoint.

He was fast out of the blocks, setting the fourth quickest time on the opening two tests, cementing his position near the top of the leaderboard. Third fastest times on stages four and six further consolidated that position.

“It’s been a great day and the car has performed brilliantly,” Dowel said at the end of day service, where the Activ RallySport Lancer required only regular servicing.

“The stages in Canberra are tough on the car and the crew, but we’ve managed to stay out of trouble and have finished the day with a solid result.

“The conditions today were incredibly dusty, and behind able to push hard in those circumstances is really tough, but we managed to stay out of trouble and add to our points haul,” Dowel added.

“The dust today was unbelievable,” co-driver Matt Lee said. “It was the worst I’ve ever experienced in a rally, and the organisers had to put three minute gaps between the cars after the first two stages.

“Our day was trouble free. We could have pushed hard on the last stage as we had a chance to take third place from Glen Raymond, but we opted for a safe approach to get to the finish in fourth – we thought we owed that to the team after the hours they put in leading up to the rally.”

Day 2 of the Rally of Canberra is the longest of the event and will see crews tackle another four stages totalling 91 competitive kilometres.

NEWS FROM OUR RIVALS

Two-time Australian Rally Champion, Simon Evans, on his first event since Toyota withdrew their factory support from the championship, won Heat 1 in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. It was a dominating performance from Evans, who beat his former team-mate, Neal Bates, by over 40 seconds.

Bates suffered a deflating tyre early in the day, but couldn’t match Evans’s pace on most stages. Bates, the reigning champion, finished more than a minute ahead of third placed Glen Raymond, also in a Toyota Corolla.

Subaru driver, Eli Evans, rolled his Subaru out of contention on the day’s second stage, while the Mitsubishi of Coffs Harbour’s Nathan Quinn blew an engine on stage three.

2009 RALLY OF CANBERRA
Heat 1 Results

1.    Simon Evans / Sue Evans, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, 54m23.0s
2.    Neal Bates / Coral Taylor, Toyota Corolla S2000, +40.6s
3.    Glen Raymond / Matt Raymond, Toyota Corolla Sportivo, +1m56.9s
4.    Justin Dowel / Matt Lee, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +2m09.3s
5.    Michael Boaden / Helen Cheers, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, +3m08.6s
6.    Brett Kipling / Darren Masters, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +4m01.8s

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