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2011 champion, Justin Dowel, will be getting down and dirty at round two of the ECB Bull Bars Australian Rally Championship in Western Australia on April 5-7.

After a thwarted entry into the National Capital Rally last month, where his classic Nissan 240RS suffered mechanical failure before the start, Dowel will contest the first round of the exciting Australian Side By Side Rally Challenge.

With support from Can-Am, Dowel will drive a Can-Am Maverick in the closed-road special stage event, and will be up against multiple Australian Rally Champion, Cody Crocker.

"We are pleased to be associated with Justin and look forward to the ARC season with him,” Sam Heyes, Director of Key Accounts and Strategic Priorities at BRP Australia said.

“The Can-Am Maverick Sport SXS is an exciting addition to the Can-Am range and to the ARC Side-by-Side Challenge, and we wish him all the best success with his new Can -Am Maverick."

The change of pace for the Activ RallySport driver came about after he broke his collar bone in the lead up to the first round of the championship in Canberra. Until then, Dowel been training hard to reclaim his title in a front-wheel drive Volkswagen Polo that he had imported from South Africa.

Part of his training had included driving his own SXS on his property in rural Victoria, and that experience will prove vital when he hits the stages around Busselton, south of Perth.

“The SXS machine is an incredible vehicle to drive – it’s like a motorcross bike on four wheels,” an excited Dowel said.

“It’s so much fun, and when the opportunity came up to drive with Can-Am in the Forest Rally, I jumped at the chance.

“My preference was initially to be running in the outright championship, but when that became an impossibility, I looked at other options, and this certainly keeps me involved,” he said.

With regular co-driver, Matt Lee, tied up with business commitments, Tasmanian Daniel Willson will take on the co-driving duties in the Can-Am.

A vastly experienced navigator, Willson’s small frame and light weight will be ideal for competition in the Side By Side machine.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” Dowel added.

“In all I’ve probably done 300 kilometres of testing in the SXS since Christmas, and it seems to really suit my driving style.

“It’s like a super-aggressive 4WD rally car, with brilliant acceleration and a great power-to-weight ratio.

“It has been built by Neal Bates Motorsport, so we know that it will be up to the task of competing for victory.”

Their main competition in the Australian Side By Side Rally Challenge will come from former Subaru star Crocker, and the vastly experienced Michael Guest, both of whom are regulars in the series.

“There’s no doubt that it will be a huge challenge and a real learning curve, but I’m really looking forward to it,” Dowel said.

He will contest all four rounds of the championship, while also driving his Nissan 240RS in the Rally of South Australia, which doesn’t count as a round of the Side By Side Challenge.

Starting on Friday night, April 5, with two spectator stages in the heart of Busselton, the Quit Forest Rally will see competitors in the Side By Side Challenge contesting 17 stages and a total distance of 187 kilometres over the three days of competition.

Stage lengths vary, from an 850 metre stage around the Nannup Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon, to the 24.04 km Ferndale stage, to be run twice on Saturday.
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