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After the best part of 12 months on the sidelines, 2011 Australian Rally Champion, Justin Dowel, will return to competition this weekend at Rally Victoria, the final round of the 2012 Australian Rally Championship (ARC).

Dowel has been concentrating on his business commitments this year, but is excited to return to the ARC with a new front-wheel drive Volkswagen Polo built to the ARC’s G2 regulations.

The 2009 model VW was purchased by Activ RallySport from Volkswagen South Africa, where it has competed successfully for the past two years.

“I’m incredibly excited to be getting back behind the wheel again, and after testing the new car last week, the team is confident that it’s going to be a competitive little machine,” Dowel said.

“We had Simon Evans come to our test day and he was able to give me some great pointers on how to drive a front-wheel drive car quickly.

“In essence I need to un-learn everything from my four-wheel drive days, and re-learn things for the new car.

“The test day was very beneficial, and hopefully I can put that to good use at Rally Victoria.”

Dowel will be co-driven in the event by Scott Spedding, as his 2011 championship-winning co-driver, Matt Lee, will be driving a Toyota Celica in Rally Victoria. Lee will return to the left-hand seat for the 2013 ARC campaign.

“Rally Victoria will be a further test session in the car,” Dowel explained. “We’re heading into the event with no expectations, and just planning on putting the knowledge learnt at the test day to good use.

“I’ll be aiming to put in a clean and smooth drive, and if we can finish in the top five I’ll be more than happy.”

Activ RallySport received strong support from VW in South Africa in the process of buying the car, which Dowel says was a key in their decision to purchase the car.

“The car is well balanced and amazingly fast, and we hope that Rally Victoria will give us a good platform to start our campaign for the 2013 Australian Rally Championship title.

“We know that next year is going to be an extremely competitive championship, and this is just the first step in trying to reclaim our national crown.”

With a new naming rights sponsor to be unveiled in January, things are looking positive for Activ Rallysport. And with a number of new cars and potential new manufacturers in 2013, the championship looks like being hard-fought.

In the meantime, however, Dowel is focussed on this weekend and Rally Victoria.

Based in Warragul, the event begins with six special stages over a competitive distance of 74 kilometres on Friday, with a further nine stages and 139 kilometres on Saturday.

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