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2011 Australian Rally Champion, Justin Dowel, has made a successful debut in the Side By Side Challenge component of this year’s championship.

After being sidelined from the main ARC competition with a broken collarbone, the Activ RallySport driver took the wheel of a brand new Can-Am Maverick Sport SXS in the Forest Rally in Western Australia.

Second place in Heat 1, and fourth place in Heat 2 saw Dowel and his co-driver, Daniel Willson, take third place overall for the weekend.

“It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the experience,” Dowel said afterwards.

“We had a really good test in the Can-Am, and then performed well at the pre-event media day, but on the start line of the first stage things started to go downhill.”

An electrical glitch with the Can-Am proved difficult to rectify over the weekend costing them any real chance of being competitive, but it didn’t detract from Dowel’s enjoyment over the event’s 17 closed road special stages.

“The Maverick was put together in two weeks, so we always expected a few teething problems, so taking that into consideration I think things went really well,” Dowel added.

“It’s certainly a lot different from driving a rally car, with narrow roads and trees overhanging in parts. There were also some big rocks to avoid and massive jumps to negotiate so the fun factor was off the scale.”

Despite this, Dowel said his body held up remarkably well.

“To be honest, I feel pretty good after the event – a lot better than what I normally do after competing in the Quit Forest Rally in the rally car.

“The Maverick has such good suspension that it just soaks up the rough stuff and you can concentrate on driving it fast.

“Because of our problems we were just grateful to finish, let alone in third and were very sad to see our team mate, Michael Guest, fail to finish, especially considering his speed.

“The 60 points is a great start to the championship and will allow us to have a good crack at the title as we hope to have our electrical glitches rectified for the next round, and the Can Am Maverick has now proven it has the speed to match the Polaris.”

The second round of the Australian Side By Side Rally Challenge is Rally Queensland in July.

Australian Side By Side Rally Challenge
Pointscore after Round 1 of 4


1. Cody Crocker / Greg Foletta, Polaris RZR, 80 points
2. Nathan Chivers / Les Chivers, Can-Am Maverick, 64 points
3. Justin Dowel / Daniel Willson, Can-Am Maverick, 60 points
4. Iain Hughes / Adam Barnes, Polaris RZR, 52 points
5. Garry Connell / Michael Heuchan, Polaris RZR, 48 points

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