Black returns with a bang to take honours in Cumbria
Taking a year off certainly did not do Callum Black any harm.
The Brackley driver returned to action last weekend for the first time in 2019 and won the 43rd staging of the Malcolm Wilson Rally in Cumbria.
The course provides 43 miles of rallying on the classic Lakes Stages. Contesting the rally in an MG ZR S1400 owned by Steve Pedlingham which was Black’s second ever rally car, he raced in the very competitive 1400cc class for the BTRDA event.
Black, the 2017 Welsh Rally champion, and new co-driver Michael Gilby experienced some power steering issues but the 586 team were able to solve the problem so the car was ready for Saturday. The stages were challenging throughout the day, which began in the snow for the first two stages, with several cars victims of the conditions.
Black drove smartly, not pushing too hard through these stages and, despite a big moment on stage one, settled down into a good rhythm, finishing the stages in the top five.
In improving conditions on the next stage, Black was able to push the car and the limits more, having a much better run despite a small misfire and then catching a car having to overtake them, arriving in second place in the 1400cc category.
It was a long drive to Grizedale Forest for the next stage, but Black had gained confidence in SS4 and SS5, setting the team up well for the longest stage of the rally. Pushing hard, Black was fastest and closing on outright leader Chris Powell, who then got a puncture, dropping significant time and the lead.
Black built up a lead of 57 seconds but on the Broughton Moor stage, his water bottle became loose and got trapped under his throttle, causing the team to have to stop on stage and forcing him to hook it out with his foot before resuming. That lost him around ten seconds.
Going into the final stage, Black had a comfortable 47-second lead to manage but an issue with the windscreen misting up, making it nearly impossible to see, meant the final moments were more challenging before he eventually crossed the line, winning with a 27-second margin.
Black said: “It was a brilliant weekend and having only done one rally in the last 18 months after securing the Welsh Championship, I could not have expected to take the win so quickly.
“I’m over the moon with the result and it felt amazing to be back behind the wheel on the stages.
“I’m looking forward to competing across some more events in the future.”