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Brackley’s Callum Black overcame one of the toughest events in the World Rally Championship to finish last weekend’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB. Black, in his first ever WRC event, guided his 586 Group backed Ford Fiesta R5 to 30th overall and 18th in RC2.

Fresh from a giant-killing season in the BTRDA Rally Series where he finished runner-up in the championship, the 26-year-old headed to Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship where he would make his inaugural outing on the world stage.

After four gruelling days behind the wheel, Black managed to guide his Fiesta to a solid finish, despite the difficult conditions and technical issues which blighted his progress up the leader board. Black’s finish also ensured co-driver Elliott Edmondson was handed the Michael “Beef” Park Trophy for his efforts on the event.

Despite a rallying career which spans almost ten years, Black had never contested the daunting Wales Rally GB before and the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship is often looked upon as one of the hardest in the 13 round calendar.

Thanks to the support of 586 Group, DMACK Tyres and PFC Brakes, Black would be ready to face his biggest challenge yet as the 300km event was set to test even the best drivers in the world.

After Thursday nights Spectator stage around the Tir Prince Raceway, the rally proper kicked off with six difficult stages in mid-Wales on Friday. A healthy WRC2 field ensured Black would have plenty of competition but with one eye on a finish, Black ensured the opening loop was a conservative one.

Sadly the second pass of the stages that afternoon was plagued by handbrake issues which hampered progress in the stages but Black’s solid performance ensured he was inside the top 20 RC2 crews.

Saturday provided the longest leg of the rally with nine stages, four repeated and a short spectator stage at Cholmondeley Castle. A good opening test was offset by a puncture on the rough Dyfnant test, forcing Black to change the wheel in the stage, haemorrhaging time in the process. A spongy brake pedal would further cause concern and when the problem was traced to a faulty caliper, repairs were effected by the team in service that afternoon.

Thick fog descended on the double-header night stages of Aberhirnant2 and Dyfnant2 and despite a cautious to the second pass of these stages, another puncture in the second test would end a frustrating and long day for Black.

Just five stages remained on Sunday’s final day and Black would need to ensure he returned a mature drive to ensure the Fiesta R5 could cross the finish podium in Llandudno later that afternoon. Although Black is usually used to pushing as hard as possible on the BTRDA rounds this season, it was time for a more conservative approach thanks to the rough nature of the stages on the final pass through.

Black picked his way through the rocks of the final Brenig stage to ensure he could secure his first World Championship finish.

“That was awesome,” said Black at the finish ramp.

“I’ve really enjoyed this weekend despite the dramas on pretty much every day of the event really. I think I probably underestimated how tough the rally was going to be but it’s been an amazing experience and I`m so pleased to make it to the finish”.

Proving that Wales Rally GB lived up to its reputation, Black was surprised how hard the event was.

“Those stages in the dark on Friday night were probably the toughest of my life,” he said.

“We just knew we had to get through them and despite all our issues this weekend I`m really proud that we have made it to the end without using Rally2. Completing every stage of this rally is a massive achievement and Id love to come back again next year with this experience in the bag and give it a real push”.

Black is supported by 586 Group, DMACK Tyres, PFC Brakes, and MCR Motorsport Media.

Image credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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