Queensland Mitsubishi driver Steven Shepheard has topped the time sheets on the opening two special stages at round one of the Bosch Australian Rally Championship, the Quit Forest Rally around the streets of Busselton in South West WA tonight.

Shepheard driving a Lancer Evo 10 held a narrow 2.1 second lead over Victorian Justin Dowell in a Mitsubishi after the two passes over the 2.6 km super special stage on the waterfront at Busselton after claiming fastest time in the rally shakedown earlier in the day.

Dowell overcame problems with a broken gearbox in his Evo 9 Lancer during the shakedown to sit in second place heading into the first day of forestry stages in the hills around Nannup on Saturday.

"It is good to lead but the rally really starts when we head into the forests tomorrow and it is going to be a long tough fight," said Shepheard.

Behind Shepheard and Dowell Victorian Mark Pedder made it a Mitsubishi trifecta at the head of the field putting his Lancer Evo 9 into third place 2.6 seconds behind Dowell with the works Honda Civic Type R of Eli Evans close behind in fourth place just 1.1 seconds in arrears while Toyota Corolla driver Ryan Smart rounded out the top five.

The 55 car field will face a total of 312 km of running on Saturday including just over 100kms of competitive running over eight special stages before the overnight halt back in Nannup and a similar distance on Sunday.

The 2011 Bosch Australian Rally Championship will be held over five rounds with the Championship heading to Queensland's Sunshine Coast in four weeks time for round two.


1.Steve Shepheard Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 3 min 05.3
2.Justin Dowell Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 +2.1secs
3.Mark Pedder Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 +4.7secs
4. Eli Evans Honda Civic Type R +5.8 secs
5. Ryan Smart Toyota Corolla Sportivo +7.7secs
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