Block’s F1 Academy chance is rallying’s loss

David Evans is delighted for Lia Block and her opportunity with Williams, but can't help but feel rallying has missed out


Am I the only one that’s hugely conflicted by Lia Block joining Williams Racing for next year’s F1 Academy?

I’ve been fortunate to get to know Lia across the last few years and there’s absolutely no doubt she has the talent to dive in there and get the job done on track. But what about rallying?

Firstly, I have to say a huge congratulations. This is a massive opportunity for Lia – but also a big pat on the back to Williams Racing; a prodigiously gifted and capable teenage female American driver is something of a golden ticket.

Block will undoubtedly prosper under the guidance of the Grove team and, while I might be biased, she surely represents Formula 1’s best bet for a female on the grid since Lella Lombardi almost half a century ago.

Racing’s gain is rallying’s loss.

It would be awesome to see her back for the odd American Rally Association round next season and there’s no doubt that continuing to drive faster and faster cars in compromised conditions can only help to further develop entirely transitional skill levels.

But, dang, what a missed opportunity for rallying. That’s not to say Lia would have taken a World Rally Championship opportunity over the chance to race at the highest level, but it would have been nice to have seen an offer made.

The impact she made on last month’s Lake Superior Performance Rally was the talk of Michigan. First time out in a four-wheel drive car and, let’s face it, had she made the finish it’s quite likely she’d have been second only to Brandon Semenuk – in a Ford Escort Cosworth which is some way from the champ’s Open class Subaru or a modern Rally2 car.

As we know, LSPR didn’t work out. She retired early with an engine problem on the first day. Her reaction to that gut-wrenching departure spoke volumes. After trying to fix the issue, having talked and worked calmly with Block House Racing team manager Derek Dauncey, she gave herself a minute or two. She sat on the Escort’s doorbar, gathered her thoughts, then told DirtFish the story with a level of professionalism way, way beyond her years.

We’re huge fans of Lia Block here at DirtFish and we only want the absolute best for her. She’s earned it, she deserves it, she’ll absolutely smash it. And if racing’s not the perfect fit, be under no illusion, rallying will always have the warmest of welcomes for one of our own.

Lia, you got this and you don’t need anybody to tell you how wide that smile is upstairs.

Words:David Evans