Following a tough time of late in Red Bull Global Rallycross, Ken Block headed over to the UK last weekend for the Gymkhana GRiD Final at Santa Pod. The Checkered Flag sat down with The Head Hoonigan to discuss his successful, but ultimately title-less GRC season and the success of Gymkhana.
TCF: When we last spoke you talked about the guys who’d had the bad luck in the season were perhaps due some good luck and you the opposite, unfortunately it seemed to go that way, didn’t it?
Ken Block: “Yeah, I appreciated the good luck when it it was there but when it went bad it went really bad which really sucked. Even in LA on the second day I got in the final and got up to second place in the first lap and then the propshaft broke, there’s nothing I can do about it. It is what it is, that’s racing but, yeah, I was pretty gutted when all that happened.”
TCF: LA has gained a reputation now of unravelling the championship leader’s season, the same thing happened to you that happened to Nelson (Piquet Jr.) last year, did that play on your mind at all or was it something you didn’t really think about?
KB: “I didn’t really, I mean, the thing is I understand it’s racing. There was nothing I could do about it, myself and the team did the best job that we could and should’ve come away with some good points there and it just wasn’t meant to be. But going into Barbados I still had the lead in the championship but that bad luck just continued to go bad. It is what it is.”
TCF: Regardless, you must be proud of how the season has gone though, it’s been your most successful season to date.
KB: “Yeah. I mean, last year I was leading at this point and then made my mistake (laughs) but I ended up second overall only loosing by five points last year. This year I don’t even know if I can get second so really kind of disappointing but like I said, that’s racing, it’s one of the parts of things that makes rallycross very exciting is that it can change very fast but unfortunately I’m the one that got bit this year but there’s literally nothing I could do about it, my team and I have done the best job we can. We had a great year, won three, on the podium at a total of five, leading the championship for the majority of the year and unfortunately it came apart here at the end.”
TCF: Going into the season finale in Las Vegas, will your approach to that event change now you’re out of the championship battle or do you see it as just another event?
KB: “I won that event the last two years in a row and the year before that I was leading the event but my car caught on fire (laughs), so I will try and do my best to win for the third year in a row. Same approach as always, I’m out there to just drive and do the best that I can and try and put my Ford Fiesta on top of the podium and hopefully this bad luck swings back the other way and I have some good luck there and can end the season on a high note.”
TCF: The Global Rallycross season this year has been your main focus, will we see you in more rallies again next year? Why have you seemingly taken a step back from stage rally this year?
KB: “Mainly it’s just schedule. I’d love to do stage rally, it’s mainly schedule and budget that goes along with all that. I can only fit so much in during the year and keep together a family that I have of three children and a wife so there’s got to be this fine balance but right now the rallycross is the main championship that I chase and when I can fit in some stage rally around there I can. I don’t have the time for a full championship anywhere but this year I was able to do two rallies down in New Zealand and one in the States and I’m very happy to have done that, I wish I could do more but I did the most that I could.”
TCF: One thing that we’ve seen grow with you in recent years is this (Gymkhana GRiD). How have you managed to make a series of YouTube videos into a such a strong event worldwide?
KB: “Well the great thing about Gymkhana is we made the word popular by this series of YouTube videos that I have more than 300 million views but at the end of the day it still routes back to an actual competition. And it’s a grassroots-type competition but what we’re doing here this weekend is actually taking that grassroots competition and making it a bit more entertainment and have a great program here for the English fans that come out and watch. It’s cool to see the popularity of the videos but it’s also cool to come out and do these events and have actual competition for people, race head-to-head and even a great set of fans who come out to see it all.”
TCF: And we’ve had Gymkhana GRiD at the X Games in the past. Any chance that it’s going to return?
KB: “I hope so. The only reason why it’s not in the X Games is when we went to switch from LA to COTA, Circuit of the Americas, they didn’t have a piece of tarmac big enough big enough to do it. I would have gladly kept going with it but I didn’t want to go backwards. They had some smaller pieces of tarmac but it just wasn’t good enough. I would rather not do it than do it badly.”
TCF: Finally, when will we see your next Gymkhana video and are you allowed to give anything away?
KB: “(Laughs) Yes there will be another one, as long as the fans and other people continue to watch these videos my sponsors will continue to fund them because they’re not cheap to make. So yeah, there will be a Gymkhana Eight, there will even be most likely a Gymkhana Nine, but I can’t give you a date or location or anything, we like to keep that stuff a secret. It’s fun to, not necessarily keep a secret, it’s fun to be able to make it a surprise for people and make it, introduce it, and be able to always try and push the envelope and come up with new idea so people are surprised and entertained and hopefully seeing something new. I think we’ve got a good one for Gymkhana Eight and I look forward to filming that soon and I hope everybody will like it as much as they’ve liked the last ones.”