Set the controls to gnarly. Ken Block, the most stoked driver in the WRC, is about to make his sole world championship appearance this year at Rally de España (23-26 October).
The US star has been away from the WRC for a while - he last took the wheel of his Hoonigan liveried Fiesta RS at Rally Mexico 2013 - but he’s kept his foot in with a busy programme in an assortment of wild Fiestas in the Rally America series, Rallycross, X-games and his own Gymkhana events.
He’s also been racking-up miles in the world’s fastest snow cat, based on a Ford F-150 truck, on the snowy slopes of Colorado. Will this help him in Spain? We’ll see, but Block always puts on a good show – and that’s why he’s our One To Watch.
We caught up with Ken to find out more about his expectations for Spain.
Ken, it’s been a while since we’ve seen you in the WRC. How quickly do you think you’ll be back up to speed?
KB: “I think getting back into a WRC-spec Fiesta will certainly be a challenge, I haven't had any seat time in one in over a year so I'm certainly at a bit of a disadvantage compared to the rest of the field. But I'm doing this event for fun, the stages in Spain are absolutely amazing, as are the fans. I'm going out to do as well as I possibly can but I'm setting very realistic goals for myself.”
What testing will you do?
KB: “I'll do both a tarmac and a gravel test prior to the event. It's sort of a must for me given my lack of seat time in the car this year.”
And what is your goal for the rally?
KB: “My objective is to go out, enjoy myself, stay focused and relaxed and do as well as I possibly can. If I feel like I'm doing well, I'll probably push a bit harder, but I know I'm not in contention to win the race so my first goal is to bring the car back safe and sound every night.”
What have you thought of the WRC title fight this year - especially the Latvala vs Ogier battle?
KB: “I've enjoyed watching the fight. Obviously I'd like to see a few different makes be in that fight as well to truly keep it interesting from a fan perspective, but the sport definitely needs that fight at the top to keep the interest.”
What are you looking forward to about Rally España - in or out of the car?
KB: “Would it be wrong if I said I was most looking forward to jamón ibérico outside of the car and racing proper stage rally stages inside of it?”