Bosch Australian Rally Championship leaders Justin Dowel and Matt Lee head into this week’s penultimate round of the series determined to consolidate on their 21-point lead.

The Activ RallySport pair are fresh from their first championship victory at the previous round in South Australia last month, and will head into the Coffs Coast Rally on the NSW mid-north coast confident of a solid performance.

Dowel, Lee and their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX will once again face strong opposition from the similar Mitsubishi of Mark Pedder, and the Toyota Corolla Sportivo of Queenslander Ryan Smart.

“We had a great result in South Australia, and the attitude for the Coffs Coast Rally has to be to protect our championship lead and score more points,” Dowel said this week.

“We didn’t contest the Coffs Harbour event last year, so guys like Pedder and Smart will have a bit of an advantage over us, but we’re confident that we can finish with a good result.

“The car is going better than ever, and with Matt and I working really well as a team, things have really started to gel over the last couple of events.

“Hopefully we can carry that confidence and form into this rally.”

The Activ RallySport Lacer will use the same suspension set-up as in South Australia, while Dowel expects to be even more comfortable with the Holinger sequential gearbox that they debuted at the last rally.

The Coffs Coast Rally is also a round of the World Rally Championship, although the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) competitors won’t compete directly against drivers like Sebastien Loeb and Petter Solberg.

The ARC event will run over two of the event’s three days. The rally is classified as an ‘endurance’ round, with points given for a crew’s result over the two days, rather than two separate heats.

“The format is a little bit different to most ARC rounds, but we’ll still attack the event with the same plan,” co-driver Matt Lee said.

“Writing our pacenotes from scratch has been a time consuming job, but we’re happy with our event preparations.

“We can’t wait to get the Activ RallySport Lancer onto the stages and perform in front of the thousands of spectators that are expected to watch the event.”

Activ RallySport has recently joined forces with two new sponsors, who will support the team for the remainder of the season. Labour suppliers Oz Staff have been welcomed aboard, while brake pad company Project U will continue to supply the team.

The Coffs Coast Rally begins with two runs around a super special stage on the Coffs Harbour jetty on Thursday night, before the action gets under way in the forests on Friday morning.

Eight stages and 116 competitive kilometres make up the route on Friday, while on Saturday crews tackle a further 10 special stages over a distance of 146 kilometres. In total, the Activ RallySport team will compete on over 270 kilometres of stages in what is easily the longest event of the season.

Bosch Australian Rally Championship pointscore
After 3 of 6 rounds

1. Justin Dowel / Matt Lee, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, 208 points
2. Ryan Smart / John Allen, Toyota Corolla Sportivo, 187 points
3. Mark Pedder / Leigh Tierney, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, 168 points

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