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2011 Bosch Australian Rally Champions (ARC), Justin Dowel and Matt Lee, will not defend their national title in 2012, and will instead focus on developing a new car for the 2013 championship season.

With the ARC switching to a two-wheel drive championship this year, the Activ RallySport pairing have made the tough decision to take most of the year off, rather than rushing in to a title defence in a new and unproven car.

Dowel will also devote more time to his business, Natures Organics, in which Lee is the Operations Manager.

“We really wanted to be able to defend our title this year, but a number of factors mean that won’t be possible,” Dowel said.

“Our business is going through a particularly busy period, and both Matt and I need to be able to put our time and energy in to that.

“But rest assured, we are in rallying for the long term, and will use the latter half of 2012 to develop a car ready for the 2013 Bosch ARC.”

Dowel has never driven a front-wheel drive car in competition and stressed that he didn’t want the added pressure of defending his ARC title, as well as learning and developing a brand new car.

“Of course this decision is disappointing for us and the ARC, but in the long term we think this is the best course of action for us,” he added.

“Over the first half of this year we’ll aim to align ourselves with a manufacturer and build a new car ready for the second half of the season.

“Our plan is to have the new car ready for the last two events of the season, and put in the groundwork ready for an assault on the 2013 championship.”

Dowel realises that the two-car factory Honda team will be the ones to beat in 2012, and knows that it is important to come into the 2013 season with a solid package that is capable of taking the title for the second time.

“We don’t want to do this half-baked, which is why we’ve taken this decision,” he said.

“The ARC is taking huge steps forward and we want to ensure that we remain in the championship moving forward, and continue to be one of the fastest teams in the field.”

This will be Dowel and Lee’s first break from competition since 2003, however they may still do selected events in Dowel’s Lancer Evo IX, or a classic Ford Escort that is nearing completion.

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