Ken Block headed for full FIA World RX season

Photo: Ford Performance
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Ken Block’s cross-continent racing tour, season 2016, will include a full season in the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

Block will have Ford Performance factory support for the Hoonigan Racing Division entry, in a usual Monster Energy-backed Ford Fiesta ST.

The news, however, means he won’t return to the domestic Red Bull Global Rallycross for a full season as he has in years past. Conceivably, he could still make one-off appearances.

The full release is below:

Hoonigan Racing Division, in conjunction with Ford Performance, is pleased to announce that professional rallycross driver, Gymkhana star and Head Hoonigan in Charge, Ken Block, will extend his factory partnership with Ford Performance to pursue the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship.

“For a big portion of my career I’ve maintained a mixed focus and kept a diverse race calendar, but now I’ll be focusing myself fully on one single championship,” said Block. “I’ve been stoked with what my team and I have accomplished so far with my Ford Fiesta ST racecars and I’m excited to see what we’ll be able to do next season with factory support. It’s going to be a very exciting 2016 and I can’t wait to get started. Thanks again to Ford for being an awesome partner.”

Block stands out as one of the top competitors in the world of rallycross and is among the winningest drivers in GRC, coming within five points of winning the 2014 championship. In 2015, Block scored three events wins, led the championship for 10 of the 12 rounds and was the leading points contributor in helping Ford secure its fifth GRC Manufacturers Championship.

In 2014, Block competed in his first World Rallycross round in Norway, where he celebrated a podium finish (third) in his maiden event. He then followed up with an appearance at the 2014 French round, finishing fourth overall and setting the fastest lap of the event. With his renewed partnership with Ford Performance, as well as their factory support, the team’s goal is to compete for a world title.

“I’m stoked to be able to compete for an FIA World Rallycross title!” said Block. “I’ve really enjoyed my past six years racing with Ford and to renew my relationship with them moving forward, as well as receiving an increased level of involvement from Ford Performance, to compete for a World Rallycross Championship, well, I couldn’t be happier!”

“The past year we have been working hard to celebrate Ford Performance as a global brand serving enthusiasts with world-class products and motorsports fans with on-track success around the globe,” said Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance. “In looking at the great success we’ve had with Fiesta ST in the Global Rallycross Championship—29 race wins and five manufacturers’ championships the past five years—everyone felt the time was right to take on a new challenge of the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

“Ken is more than a driver or a partner to us, he’s a member of the Ford Performance team. He continues to be an advocate for enthusiasts around the world and we engage him frequently in product and motorsports discussions,” Pericak added. “We know Ken’s team is the right one to help us pursue our goal of winning an FIA World Rallycross Championship title and tell the Ford Performance story. Ford and Ford Performance are global brands, just like Ken, so it’s a great match for all of us involved.”

Block and Ford Performance will begin their pursuit of a World Championship when the 2016 WorldRX race calendar kicks off in Portugal, April 16 and 17. Be sure to tune in between now and then however, as there will be plenty more announcements in the near future.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III