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Access Hardware’s Spencer Lowndes has recorded his best heat result for the 2008 Australian Rally Championship (ARC) season today, finishing the opening leg of the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge in second outright.

The leading Mitsubishi driver in the ARC field, Lowndes was quickly on the pace this morning setting the fastest time for the day in the opening ‘warm up’ stage.  He continued to set top two times across the day, winning SS3 and extending his lead over third placed Simon Evans
(Toyota) to more than 20 seconds.

Lowndes and co-driver Chris Randell are contesting the only tarmac round of the ARC in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX and his previous experience on tarmac is showing by his consistent pace in slippery and challenging conditions.

“We (Lowndes and Randell) had a lot of fun out there today,” Lowndes said. “Tarmac is never going to be as fun as gravel, but it’s great to be getting some more experience on the surface and it is definitely mixing up the results at the top end of the Championship race.”

“My previous tarmac experience definitely played a part in my confidence out there which in turn allowed me to post some pretty impressive stage times.  Coming into the rally I was hoping to be matching times with the Toyota boys (Neal Bates and Simon Evans) so to be splitting them at the end of today is fantastic.”

Currently sitting only three points shy of defending series champion Simon Evans in fourth outright, Lowndes’ second today puts him in a great position to reclaim third and make a charge on second outright ahead of the sixth and final round of the national series.

“The rally is far from over, we still have another six stages to complete tomorrow and the conditions out there are extremely unpredictable,” Lowndes said.

“Simon (Evans) didn’t have a great day today and we had a fantastic day, so who knows what will happen tomorrow.”

“If we can cement a podium finish this weekend I’ll be stoked, we’ve been consistently fourth all year so I’ve been itching to get back up there amongst the top three.”

Lowndes, who made only minimal set up changes to his car before coming into this round, said his service crew had done a fantastic job.

“The car was perfect out there, the tyres held up really well and we had great engine response, best of all we had no dramas so the boys should have a pretty easy night to prepare the car for tomorrow.”

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