Jason Black is set to make his rallying return on the Irish Tarmac Championship’s season opener, Galway International Rally. The young driver will return to Irish rallying in an upgraded Toyota Starlet after nine months on the side-lines.
Black, who was dominant in 2018’s Irish National Junior Championship, suffered a serious accident the following year ahead of making his R2 debut. The Armagh driver is now focused on stepping back into his favoured Starlet.
“It was a difficult period last year,” described Black. “Things had been going so well for the last couple of seasons but we’ll get our heads up and go at it again this season.
“During a pre-event test for Donegal Forestry, our Peugeot 208 veered off the road after a jump and hit a tree head-on. It was a very sudden stop from a fairly high speed.
“Both myself and my navigator Karl broke a vertebrae in our backs and had to get surgery.
“It has been a long few months for both of us, especially at the start when our mobility was quite limited.
“I’ve been attending the physio and I try to go to the gym a couple of times a week to strengthen the muscles and thankfully all is feeling normal again.”
Black, whose brother and Father also rally Starlets, has used the time away from driving to upgrade his car. His rear-wheel-drive Starlet’s 1600cc engine has been replaced with a 2.0-litre variant, moving Black from Class 11R to the highly-strung Class 13.
“I’ve been trying to do bits to the car but I suppose for the first few months after the accident I was in no fit shape to be rolling under a car, but progress has been good the last while and the car is nearly back together.
“My biggest goal for this season is to get back in the car and get as much seat time as possible.
“It would be nice to get onto the pace of the Class 13 regulars too and I’d also like to build on my gravel experience. Hopefully, it will all come together.”
The Starlet is being prepared for gravel competition as Black focuses on making his rallying return one event at a time. He hopes to compete in the Border Championship along with some gravel events following his return in Galway.