Park City, Utah (April 16, 2018)
After a three year hiatus, Ken Block is returning to stage rally in a big way, entering a classic Ford Escort RS Cosworth at select events of the 2018 American Rally Association (ARA) National Championship Series. Block will partner with long-time co-driver Alex Gelsomino at the Oregon Trail Rally, New England Forest Rally, and Idaho Rally International.
Block first teased the car last year, unveiling it at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas back in November. The Ford Escort RS Cosworth was built for Group A competition in the World Rally Championship during the early 1990s. Block's particular “Cossie” was built for stage rally competition in that period and has since been modified to conform to modern safety specifications.
Block and Gelsomino tested the car in the Arizona desert on several occasions over the winter to properly prepare it for modern competition in the US. The testing also served to shake the rust off of Block, who last competed at a stage rally event in 2015.
“I am a big fan of rally, I've been a stage rally enthusiast since I was a kid,” said Block in a reveal video for the car. “Grabbing from that history, and pulling that stuff in, and racing it in modern ways is just a really cool thing for me. So this car just plays right along into that. I'm actually getting to go out and do some stage rally in this thing, one of the cars that I loved as a kid watching race out on the stages. Now I get to take it myself and go out and race three events out on the gravel with it.”
Block has a long history with OTR and NEFR, but Idaho will be an entirely new challenge to him. The Hoonigan driver has a record of three podiums for seven starts at Oregon and last competed there in 2013, when he placed second overall. Since then, Oregon has changed some of its more technical stage roads for faster, more flowing, tests. The style of Oregon's new roads should favor Block's driving style, while lessening the speed impact of the Cossie's older suspension design.
Though Block and Gelsomino will run the Cossie in ARA's Open 4WD class, the pair have stated that they are not competing for rally wins or the ARA championship. Instead, they are focusing on the experience and challenge that competing in an older car at racing pace brings forward.
“Believe me I know, racing here in the states in the championship there's factory level cars. I'm competing against modern equipment. I'm not taking this car there to try and win. It's about the experience,” said Block. “I may end up eighth place or I may end up third place, I don't really know, but for me it's about living that experience. I think what's fun for me and fun for our team is to take on a challenge like this and see how good we can do, see how much fun we can have, lets see what the trials and tribulations will result.”
Block and Gelsomino will be out in force at the Oregon Trail Rally, starting this Friday, April 20, at Portland International Raceway. More information on the event and how to see the Escort Cosworth in person is available at americanrallyassociation.org/oregontrailrally and oregontrailrally.com.
About American Rally Association (ARA)
A member-driven organization dedicated to the sport of Stage Rally, the American Rally Association provides a transparent, inclusive, and growing sanctioning body to competitors throughout America. A 501 (c)(3) non-profit and wholly owned subsidiary of the United States Auto Club (USAC), ARA is led by seasoned Stage Rally professionals who work hand in hand with an experienced Board of Directors to deliver a framework for safety, competition, promotion, and education for all aspects of the sport. The common goal of our members, volunteers, and organization is a thriving Stage Rally program in America.