Troy Dowel will join rare company this month when he contests The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally behind the wheel of a new Ford Fiesta Rally 2.
In attending Gippsland in the Fiesta, the young Victorian will become just the second driver this year to contest a Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) round in the third different car, joining Tasmanian Eddie Maguire in the process.
Dowel began the season off in a Skoda Fabia R5, which he used to contest the Buckby ŠKODA Rally Launceston and the Make Smoking History Forest Rally, before selling it to Maguire and switching to the brand new Mitsubishi Mirage G4.
The 22-year-old ran his new car for last month’s Accent Benchtops Rally Queensland, but endured a tough weekend with multiple car troubles, including power steering issues, that prevented him from getting some decent seat time.
Following on from the event, the Activ Rallysport team decided to put the car back in development and switch Dowel into a different car for the rest of the 2023 season.
With Maguire having purchased the Skoda, the team approached the highly renowned M-Sport to obtain the Fiesta, which is a similar make to those driven by both Luke Anear and Tom Clarke.
“After Queensland, we came to the conclusion that we need more time developing the car, so we decided to rest it instead of trying to improve it while we rally,” Dowel said.
“The decision was then made to get the Fiesta, and with the help of Luke Anear, we were able to fast-track one and get it to Australia in time for the Gippsland Rally.
“So, I will drive the Fiesta, which will likely be for the rest of the year, while we work on Mirage in the background.
“We want to take our time with the car and not rush into things. Bring the Mirage out when the car is ready again – the team is confident in the car, but there is a lot of stuff that we haven’t done that we want to do, so this will give us the opportunity to do it.”
The Fiesta is due to arrive in Victoria later this week before undergoing quarantine, leaving Dowel with very little time to get familiar with the car.
In fact, Dowel is unlikely to get any testing done before Gippsland and will have to wait until the official test day on the Thursday prior to the rally.
While he will have very limited time in the car before the fourth round of the ARC season, Dowel was nevertheless excited for the challenge of a third car in a third consecutive round this season.
“I am looking forward to driving the Fiesta because Rally 2 cars are fairly easy to drive,” Dowel said.
“I have never driven a Fiesta, and my only Rally2 experience was the Skoda, which was only two rallies, so there is no doubt I will be learning a lot in Gippsland and hopefully I can get as much testing as I can.
“It’s certainly been a bit chaotic with all the car swapping, but it’s helpful in terms of learning how to adapt to cars – it’s actually a bit of a skill where you gain a broader range of car experience – I have definitely enjoyed driving the other cars and will no doubt enjoy this one.
“Admittedly, it’s going to be very close, but I’m fairly confident the car will be there in time, and if we are lucky, we might be able to get a test in, which would be great.”
Entries for the event close on Friday 11 August and can be done via the Motorsport Australia Member Portal.
The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally takes place in the Gippsland and Heyfield areas on 25-27 August.