Dowel ready for Skoda switch

Armed with a full year in the Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) and a new Skoda Fabia R5, Troy Dowel is ready to take the next step in his career.

The Victorian is locked in for this month’s season opening Buckby ŠKODA Rally Launceston and was one of multiple drivers who upgraded their cars in in the off season in readiness for a strong 2023 campaign.

Having been behind the wheel of the Hyundai i20 G4 for his first full-time ARC campaign last year, Dowel had a breakout year with podiums at the Gippsland Rally and the Adelaide Hills Rally, while finishing third in both heats of last year’s Rally Launceston. He would go on to finish fourth outright in the ARC in a standout performance.

This year, Dowel will be steering a new set of wheels – the same car that 2019 ARC champion Harry Bates used at last year’s FIA World Rally Championship round in New Zealand.

In upgrading to the Skoda, the 22-year-old was looking forward to a new challenge.

“I am extremely excited to be driving the Skoda now as it is a very nice car,” Dowel said.

“I have had two days of testing so far and probably completed around 80 kilometres in total, so I have been slowly learning the car.

“Of course, there are a lot of things to improve on but both test days went well, the early signs are fairly good and the car has a great feeling.

“It definitely has better traction and grip than the Hyundai does, but the power has less torque and power. I don’t think it will affect me too much as my driving style is very smooth.

“Overall, I am happy and it’s a step up for me.”

Photo: Daniel Kalisz

With not long to go until the 2023 season begins, Dowel believed he had the tools to improve significantly and challenge for more podiums this year.

“We’re taking a different approach this year,” Dowel added.

“Last year we took fairly easy on first pass on each stage, however this year we have a base set of notes from 2022, so we will be able to attack a lot harder from the get-go.

“The car will help a little, but I think it’s mainly my experience that will be the difference.

“Having more experience and a new car, I am truly hoping to improve this year, but you can’t predict a result because anything can happen in this sport.

“With that said, I am definitely looking for more podiums and then I guess we will build on it after each rally and see how we go.

“Starting with Tassie is exciting because it was one of my favourite rallies last year and we almost got an outright podium and I am really looking forward to going out on those stages.”

With the car now on its way to Tasmania, Dowel will reveal the new livery at the season launch in the lead up to the event.

Click here for more information on the event and how to attend.

The 2023 Buckby ŠKODA Rally Launceston takes place around the forests of Launceston on 24-26 March.