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Skoda Fabia R5 driver, John O'Dowd, is in a race against time to be fit for the first Australian Rally Championship round of the season after major surgery prior to Christmas. The Western Australian Rally Champion finished fourth in last year's ARC and is primed for a full assault on this year's title race – depending on his health. O'Dowd already had a damaged right shoulder from when he hit the wall at Bathurst some time ago, but made the injury worse when he came off his mountain bike in November. "I went over a jump thinking I was 20 years old," he told RallySport Magazine.
"When I got airborne I realised I was 53, and the landing wasn't pretty."
He ripped the muscle off the bone and damaged the tendon, which required major surgery to insert two plastic anchor pins, as well as grinding off some of the bone. The operation was performed by a surgeon who was the orthopaedic consultant to the Fremantle Dockers from 1995 to 2012, and has looked after athletes from nearly all the elite teams in Western Australia.

John O'Dowd is in a rush to be fit for the first round of the ARC. Photo: Peter Whitten

It's an injury that will require four to six months of recovery, but O'Dowd is confident that he'll be fit enough for round one of the ARC in March. "I doubt that I'll be in Canberra for the tyre test day in early February, but I reckon I should be okay by March," he said.
"I'll be doing the whole ARC this year for the first time. Previously I've missed at least one round because of a clash with a WARC event.
"The plan is to run the Skoda again this year. The car is set up really well and I think I can up the pace a little more this year." Toni Feaver will continue to co-drive for O'Dowd, with the pair recently changing their pace noting system from a 1-6 number format to 1-10 system. "Toni was keen for me to make the change, but I was a bit sceptical, but it has worked really well so far and I feel I'm quicker on the new notes." O'Dowd's program will again be supported by his Truck Wholesale WA business, but other high profile sponsors are also close to becoming a reality.
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