Activ RallySport driver Justin Dowel has gone from the high of finishing second on day one of Rally Queensland, to only finishing two stages during leg two, as the event concluded on the Sunshine Coast.
Dowel and co-driver, Matt Lee, secured their best ever Australian Rally Championship (ARC) result yesterday, but suffered two separate mechanical failure today, ending their rally on a sour note.
Six top three stage times on the opening day of the rally had given the Victorians pairing high hopes of securing another second place, but fate dealt them a cruel blow not longer after day two got under way this morning.
“We had big plans to repeat yesterday’s result, but a gearbox failure on the very first stage of the day soon put paid to that,” Dowel said.
It meant that they were forced to miss the next four stages while the Activ RallySport team replaced the broken gearbox.
Following the midday service, the crew rejoined the event, albeit out of outright contention.

“Although now out of contention for the event, we saw a great opportunity to spend more time in the car on some of the country’s most challenging stages,” Dowel added.

Remarkably, returning to the same stage as earlier, a rear brake line then become dislodged on the Lancer Evo IX, and with two long stages still to run, Dowel and Lee made the sensible decision to retire from the event before further damage was done.

“We stopped mid-stage to ensure we didn’t impede Mark (Pedder), who was on his way to a most deserving podium.  When we got out of the car we found a secondary gearbox problem as well, and decided things were maybe happening for a reason!” Lee said.

“It really is an unfortunate way to finish what had been a great event up until today.
“Justin has done an awesome job since our issues in SA, in and out of the car, and we were really looking forward to rewarding those efforts with a podium place, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”
While Dowel and Lee suffered bad luck, fellow Victorians Simon and Sue Evans virtually secured their fourth ARC crown with another victory in their Subaru.
The ARC now takes a three-month break before the final event, the Rally of Victoria, in November. However, the Activ RallySport team will remain busy, with plans to contest at least two events before the ARC finale.
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