Black takes back-to-back Dunoon Presents Argyll Rally wins

Callum Black took the second Dunoon Presents Argyll Rally victory of his career, hauling his Ford Fiesta Rally2 to a convincing win at last weekend’s [21/22 June] closed road event around the Cowal Peninsula.

Black and co-driver Jack Morton stormed to back-to-back event wins, spraying the champagne in Dunoon town centre on Saturday night after finishing almost two minutes ahead of Euan Thorburn in his Volkswagen Polo R5, with Neil Roskell rounding out the podium in third in his Fiesta Rally2.

A bumper entry headed to the region for one of the biggest Argyll Rally on record, with some of the best drivers in the country assembling to tackle two days of closed road motorsport and around 75 competitive miles. Contenders from a host of national and regional rally series bolstered numbers, offering fans and locals a thrilling weekend of action.

Made possible by the support of Dunoon Presents, the local community and the authorities, the event is now one of the most highly regarded in the country and the much anticipated weekend kicked off with the now traditional blast around Dunoon town centre in front of a packed out crowd lining the streets to witness the thrills and spills of top-shelf rallying.

After the double run of the tricky opening test, it was Hugh Brunton’s Skoda Fabia who held a slender one-second lead over Thorburn heading into the closed roads proper. Having been down in seventh after Dunoon, Black soon made headway up the leaderboard with the fastest time over the Tarsan Dam test, to sit just one second adrift of the Duns driver and by the very next stage, he was out front.

Seven stages in total made up Friday night’s leg and as darkness descended, Black’s lead increased. A puncture for Thorburn added to the general uneasiness of the Scot’s feeling in the car and he would drop down to fourth by the overnight halt. Roskell moved into second with Michael Binnie third, although no one could match Black’s insatiable pace, leading by 41 seconds.

Saturday provided the bulk of the mileage and once again Black was unstoppable, winning every one of the six stages before service and opening up an unbeatable lead, taking 14 stage wins, overall victory and maximum Protyre National Asphalt Rally Championship points.

Behind him, the battle between Binnie and Roskell waged on throughout the day, but neither could keep up with Thorburn and co-driver Paul Beaton who charged back up the leaderboard to secure second place and the Asset Alliance Group Scottish Rally Championship spoils. That left Roskell and co-driver Dai Roberts to round out the podium spots in third.

Rory Young/Allan Cathers took fourth in their Polo R5 whilst Binnie and Claire Mole finished fifth in their Fiesta R5.

The Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Rally Championship made the trip for the first time and it was an impressive maximum points haul for British Rally Champion turned James Bond stunt driver Mark Higgins, who took his Triumph TR7 V8 to a staggering 11th overall with co-driver Carl Williamson. They beat the Porsche 911 of Seb Perez/Gary McElhinney who scooped a top twenty result.

Upholding local honours, Dunoon driver Steven Smith enjoyed his best Argyll Rally finish in 29th overall and sixth in Class 3 behind the wheel of his Ford Escort MKII, with Daniel Johnstone alongside.

Calum and Laura MacLeod enjoyed a confidence-boosting run to 48th overall in their Ford Escort MKII. The family team from Dunoon were originally hoping for a better result, but with the impressive entry this year, professed to be “chuffed” with the outcome and their best finish in the Escort to date on the rally.

On only their second-ever rally, the Dunoon-based husband-and-wife team of David and Jenny Robertson tackled the event once again, this time in a Ford Focus and managed to complete each one of the stages to record their first Argyll finish after an unfortunate retirement in 2023.

Fellow Dunoon driver Matthew Youden with co-driver Ross Bell would tackle their first-ever rally at the weekend. Driving a Citroen Saxo, they were forced to use Super Rally after a difficult weekend, but still recorded a finish on their first time of trying.

Steeped in history, the event’s origins hark back to the early 1970s which started as a forest rally in the area. It returned to the British rallying calendar in 2017 after a thirteen-year sabbatical and subsequently switched to an asphalt event, which continues to this day.

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