Ken Block Leaves Subaru – Heads For WRC With Ford

Ok, not many of here at Waldorf Ford are into WRC or X-Games, but thought this was a great testament to the Ford brand and especially for Ford Focus and the upcoming 2011 Ford Fiesta. Now, the video isn’t of Ken Block driving either of these, but it is a glimpse of what we should expect to see once he is behind the wheel of a Focus and Fiesta. Below the video is the complete article about him leaving Subaru to drive a Ford.

Youtube gymkhana phenom and X-Games Rally Racing star Ken Block has left Subaru Rally Team USA and will compete in both WRC and Rally America on behalf of Ford Motor Company in 2010. The official announcement came from Ford this morning, although USA Today broke embargo and posted the story 12 hours early, creating an instant buzz in the Rally community.

“The easiest thing for me to say is that I am really stoked to have this partnership with Ford. This is going to be one of the biggest challenges of my life and my career. With the World Rally Championship, I am stepping into the biggest rally championship in the world and I will be competing against some of the best drivers in the world. That level of racing isn’t something that you just step into and expect to instantly be on the podium. I would be in fantasyland if I thought that I was going to be anywhere near that. So, for me, 2010 is a developmental year and I am really looking to develop my skills as far as I can and then I can began pushing harder in 2011 and 2012. It is going to be an amazing experience, but I am also very realistic about where I stand in this world and what my goals are going to be for the next year to three years,” Block says.
Block was the 2005 Rally America Rookie of the Year and is a three-time medalist at X Games. Additionally, Block has cultivated a tremendous cult following with his Gymkhana videos on YouTube. The plan is for Block to drive the current Ford Focus developed for FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) competition, and drive the new Ford Fiesta in the Rally America series and the X Games. Beginning in 2011, the Fiesta will become Ford’s WRC car. At a minimum, this effort means that an All Wheel Drive forced induction version of the Fiesta will be developed for Rally competition, and perhaps some of that will trickle down to a street car version?

“I am very excited to be in the Fiesta. That is the damn car that beat me last summer at X Games. Ford has a great platform with the Fiesta to develop and push a very good rally car worldwide and also in the showrooms. I am very excited to get in the Fiesta and see what I can do in the Rally America championship and at the X Games and also in 2011 to be in the new Fiesta World Rally car,” Block says.

Heading for Ford in the WRC and in Rally America means that Subaru Rally Team USA has lost one of their leading drivers. Clearly, the competition between Block and 4-time national champion Travis Pastrana, who remains with Subaru and has done some introductory P-WRC racing with that brand, is about to heat up.

“I have been doing [Rally America] for five years now and I am going after the championship. I have been very close several times, but this year I feel like it is my year. The biggest challenge is going to be getting me seat time. I have been racing with a different manufacturer for many years now and while I have a lot of confidence in my abilities, jumping into a new car is always difficult. It is a big program we have going on this year, its global and there are a lot of different aspects to it from World Rally Championship to X Games to a new Gymkhana car,” Block says.
For their part, Subaru issued Driving Sports TV a fairly bland statement, “It’s a positive development for Rally in the U.S. should another manufacturer enter with a factory program.” While losing Block is a blow to Subaru’s dominance in North American Rally Racing, they still have Pastrana, and have been bringing X-Games BMX champion Dave Mirra up the ladder for the past two years. And the truth of the matter is, having a second manufacturer in Rally America and X Games competition brings tremendous credibility to the Rally America program as the U.S. national rally series.

Away from the world of Rally Racing, there’s just one question on the minds of Block’s fans – will there be a new Gymkhana video with Ford? Block answers that one easily and readily:

Of course! We are in the developmental stages of a new Fiesta Gymkhana car and we are looking to have some new video content out by the summer.”

Source: Driving Sports, Posted by Jeff Zurschmeide – Editor• January 6, 2010

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