Justin Dowel and Matt Lee have driven superbly to lead the International Rally of Queensland after the first day, the second round of the Bosch Australian Rally Championship round.

Driving their Activ RallySport Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, Dowel and Lee won six of the 10 special stages held so far and hold a 6.8 second lead over the similar Lancer of Mark Pedder.

After taking third in the opening round of the championship in Western Australia last month, the Victorians were confident that pre-event testing had given them a significant increase in horsepower and performance.

And so it was, with a blistering performance that was set up on the longest stage of the day, the 27km Derrier test. Dowel was an impressive 14.2 seconds faster than round one winner Ryan Smart, and followed that up with another win on the repeat of the stage later in the day.

Dowel’s lead could have been considerably bigger had it not been for a glitch on Friday’s night’s opening tarmac stage, when he stalled the engine on the start line, costing him over 18 seconds.

The stalling problem, thought to be caused by spark plugs that were fouling up, also reared its head on Saturday stages, while a broken rear diff housing on the eighth stage saw him go off the road backwards, damaging the rear of the car. Despite this, he was still fastest on the stage.

“It’s been a very eventful first day, but we’re rapt to be leading,” Dowel said.

“The car has been brilliant – like chalk and cheese compared to what it was in WA. But with our problems so far we reckon we’ve given away about a minute to our opposition, so hopefully day two will go a lot smoother.”

Co-driver Matt Lee praised Dowel’s performance.

“Justin has driven very, very well and our lead is a testament to that. The Activ RallySport mechanics did a magnificent job to get the car repaired in the available time, so our lead is just as much their doing.

“We also had great help from some of the Evans Motorsport crew in fixing the car, so we’d really like to thank them as well,” Lee said.

Heat 2 starts begins on Saturday night with a further two passes of the tarmac Caloundra spectator stage, before seven stages on Sunday, the longest being the rally’s final stage, ‘Big Derrier’, at over 34km in length.

International Rally of Queensland – results after Leg 1
1. Justin Dowel / Matt Lee, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, 1h13m39.0s
2. Mark Pedder / Leigh Tierney, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +6.8s
3. Ryan Smart / John Allen, Toyota Corolla Sportivo, +23.1s
4. Steve Shepheard / John McCarthy, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, +1m24.0s
5. Michael Boaden / Helen Cheers, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +1m51.5s

Get full, exclusive access for only $6.55/month.
  • Full access
  • Exclusive news
  • Store & Tour discounts

Show Your Support


Recent Posts