Lowndes’ rally ends abruptly
- 5th October 2008, 9:24pm
Access Hardware’s Spencer Lowndes’ fantastic run in the fifth round of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC), came to an abrupt end today when the leading Mitsubishi privateer left the road on the final stage of the event, ending up in the tree line.
After finishing second outright in heat one and leading the field for much of heat two, a pace-noting issue only a few kilometres into the final stage ended his dream run and shattered his chances of a return to the ARC podium.
Taking the opening stages of heat two Lowndes trailed series leader, Toyota’s Neal Bates, by less than four seconds heading into the 19.14 kilometre stage.
“We (Lowndes and co-driver Chris Randell) had a pace-noting problem and left the road at a pretty fast pace. Unfortunately for us our final resting place was a very solid tree,” a dejected Lowndes said on returning to the service park.
“We won’t know the full extent of the damage until we get the car (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) back to the workshop in Melbourne, but I’m not expecting to get much good news. It was a very sudden stop and there is a lot of front end damage.”
While a little sore, Lowndes and Randell came out of the incident with only a few scratches.
“Thank God for the HANS device (a yoke-collar safety device designed to reduce extreme head motions and neck loads during high speed impacts) it really made a huge difference today.”
Lowndes’ crew will now have their work cut out for them preparing a car for the season ending Coffs Coast Rally in just over one month’s time.
“It’s going to be tough work turning a car around in a short period of time, but it will give us the opportunity make some set up changes we’ve been hoping to make throughout the year,” Lowndes said.
While a strong finish today would have seen Lowndes move into second outright in the ARC, a podium finish is still not out of the question.
Only eight points behind Subaru privateer Eli Evans, who currently sits in third, and 33 behind defending series champion and Toyota Manufacturer driver, Simon Evans in second, Lowndes will have a fight on his hands if he is to stand on the podium at the end of the season.
The Coffs Coast Rally, to be held in Coffs Harbour from the 15-16th of November, will mark a return to one of Australia’s traditional rally stomping grounds.
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