As the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy enters its third year, the interest in the series continues to grow, this hasn’t passed by Ford Performance who will be on the grid with the Head Hoonigan In Charge Ken Block as the rising star Andreas Bakkerud as Hoonigan Racing bring the M-Sport engineered Ford Focus RS RX on to the grid.
While some people may only know Block from his Gymkhana escapades, the American has tasted success in rally and narrowly missed out on championships in the Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship, we took some time to catch up with Block as he prepares for the World RX of Portugal this weekend in Montalegre.
What were your first impressions of the new car?
“My new Ford Focus RS RX rallycross car is amazing. Ford Performance and M-Sport have done an incredible job putting these cars together. The power delivery, the handling, just the amount of tech and development that’s gone into them is above and beyond my expectations. I’m stoked with the package that we’ve got for this season.”
This is the first time you will be racing something other than a Fiesta in Rallycross, how different is it to the Fiesta and how does the size difference affect the handling?
“It actually feels fairly similar; you don’t really notice the size difference once you’re inside and moving.”
What do you see as the main differences between GRC and WRX?
“The big difference is the tracks. GRC builds tracks for one-off events so they’re primarily tarmac and concrete k-rails. World RX features actual race circuits that have history, elevation changes, more dirt, etc. As a driver, I definitely prefer actual circuits!”
How does this help your preparation knowing the layout of a fixed track and have you been studying footage of previous races?
“It helps a lot! It’s nice being able to see what you’ll be racing on weeks and months in advance, not just a few hours before the event. I’ve definitely been studying the circuits I’ll be going to this season.”
What venues are you most looking forward to this season?
“Right now I’m looking forward to Portugal since it’s the first round, but I’m also looking forward to going back to Hell in Norway since that was a great experience for me when I raced there in 2014.”
This is the first year you’ve had a team-mate in your team, how much of an asset is it to you to have someone like Andreas alongside?
“Andreas is a huge benefit to us as a team. He’s not only a great driver who’ll help us in our chase of a manufacturer title, but he’s also raced on all of the circuits that we’ll be going to, so he brings experience and knowledge to the table that I’ll be able to benefit from. It’s a big asset since I’ll be seeing a lot of these tracks for the first time this year.”
Who do you see as your biggest competitor this season?
“There are a lot of guys in this championship that are great drivers—including my teammate! It’s too hard to name just one.”
You faced Sebastien Loeb in the 2012 X Games, what are your memories of this race and are you looking forward to going head-to-head again with him this season?
“That was a wild race for me, I managed to pull of a second place finish with only three tires! Seb is probably the best driver in the world, so to be able to continue to race against him this year is going to be a lot of fun for me. I think all of us are going to enjoy racing against him.”
With six GRC victories and a further nine GRC podiums, including narrowly missing out on the title in 2014 (and a third place in 2013), Block comes to World Rallycross with a great deal of potential, a hard charging driver who is prepared to put it all on the line which could make for fireworks on track this year. If his previous two WRX outings in 2014 are anything to go by, he will hit the ground running and will be one to watch this season…
The 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy gets under way in four days time as the series heads to Portugal, theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will be bringing you full coverage of the season with exclusive interviews and behind the scenes news.