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The battle for the Bosch Australian Rally Championship is delicately poised as the series heads to its final round in Victoria and following the fourth round at Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour, with just three points separating the key protagonists.

Queensland young gun Ryan Smart came away from the Coffs Forest Rally, the Bosch ARC run across two of the three days of Rally Australia, with a narrow three point margin over Justin Dowel and has set up a nail biting finish to the first Unrestricted Championship in the history of the ARC.

Smart's last minute driveshaft failure just four stages from home on day two of the event meant he had to limp into second place forgoing a swag of extra points that may have given him a more comfortable gap on Dowel who himself had a fraught time during the tough fourth round.

Slippery conditions saw Dowel go off the road several times on day one and the badly battled-scarred Unrestricted Mitsubishi Evo IX limped across the line to score a total of 40 points for the weekend, underlining just how important it is to ensure you keep going despite adversities.

According to Scott Pedder the result at the Coffs Forest Rally has provided a tantalising finish to the first Unrestricted Bosch ARC with any one of the top three in with a chance for the championship.

"With Ryan Smart and Justin Dowel separated by just three points and Mark Pedder in with a chance mathematically it is going to be a very exciting conclusion to the series," said Scott Pedder.

"Smart, Dowel and Pedder have been fighting it out all year and it is fitting that they go down to the wire in the final round," he added.

"There is a maximum of 81 points available for the winner at the Rally of Victoria so it is going to require a cool head and the ability to match pace with reliability to ensure a Championship victory," said Scott.

Justin Dowel came to Coffs Harbour on a high after victory in Scouts Rally SA but that high was soon eroded by his troubles on the first day of the Coffs event.

"After the highs of winning the South Australian event last month, we came back to earth with a thud in Coffs Harbour," said Justin Dowel.
"Rallying can be a tough sport, so we've just got to regroup over the next two months and go to the final round of the championship in Victoria with all guns blazing and everything is still to play for, " he added.

For Championship leader Ryan Smart the Coffs Forest Rally was bitter-sweet putting him back in the Championship lead but at the same time robbing him of some valuable points with the drive shaft problems over the final few stages slowing the progress of the Corolla Sportivo.

"We're happy that we are now back in the lead of the championship, but also disappointed that we weren't able to maintain first position after being so dominant all weekend, which meant we pretty much handed the win to Steve Shepheard as well as allowing Justin Dowel to be close going into the final round," Ryan said.

The final round of the Bosch ARC, Rally Victoria will take place in Gippsland on November 11-12.
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