Despite frustrating engine problems, Justin Dowel and Matt Lee have finished a brilliant second in the International Rally of Queensland, the second round of the Bosch Australian Rally Championship round.

Driving their Activ RallySport Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, Dowel went into the final 34.5km stage with a big chance of victory, with he, fellow Mitsubishi driver Mark Pedder, and the Toyota of Ryan Smart separated by just two seconds.

By victory escaped the Victorians as local favourite, Smart, put in a stunning drive to clinch victory by 13.4 seconds, with Dowel and Pedder tying for second place.

Dowel went into the second leg of the event with a lead of 6.8 seconds after winning six of the opening 10 stages. However, he was unable to top the timesheets on the final day, taking four second fastest and three third fastest times.

“It’s been a really frustrating weekend, but the positive is that we’ve come away with another good points haul,” Dowel said.

“We had a continuation of the fuel problem for the first five stages today, and we were basically giving up 10 seconds at the start of every stage.

“The engine was flooding and fouling up the spark plugs on idle, with too much fuel going into the engine at low revs. Once it was going it was fine, but unfortunately we were giving away far too much time to our rivals.”

Despite the disappointment, Dowel was full of praise for rally winner Ryan Smart.

“Well done to Ryan. He drove really well today and on home ground he came away with a great win.

“But again Matt and I have shown that we have the speed to win. We worked our butts off all weekend, and the new Holinger gearbox that we used this weekend was brilliant.

“For sure I was over-driving a little bit to try to make up time, and I had a costly spin on the last stage, but despite everything, we have to be happy with equal second place. It could have been a lot worse,” Dowel added.

Dowel and Lee retain their third place in the Bosch Australian Rally Championship heading into the third round of the series, the Scouts Rally South Australia, to be held in the Adelaide Hills from July 29 to 31.

The duo have been quick on the fast South Australian roads in the past, and are hoping that their luck will change, enabling them to win their first ARC round.

International Rally of Queensland – Final results
1. Ryan Smart / John Allen, Toyota Corolla Sportivo, 2h22m53.7s
=2. Justin Dowel / Matt Lee, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +13.4s
=2. Mark Pedder / Leigh Tierney, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +13.4s
4. Steve Shepheard / John McCarthy, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, +4m54.2s
5. John Goasdoue / Hugh Reardon-Smith, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, +10m55.2s

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