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SALEM, Mo. – Ken Block and the Monster World Rally Team H.F.H.V. Ford Fiesta made their 2012 debut at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood and it ended the way every race ever has for Ken Block in rural Missouri, with a victory.
Block has dominated the Rally America National Championship Missouri stop winning six times in six tries. After missing the 2011 event with a WRC conflict and snapping a streak of five straight wins, Block and the Fiesta returned with a vengeance winning 15 of 17 stages and taking the overall win by 29.3 seconds over David Higgins and his Subaru STI.
“I am very happy to have my Ford Fiesta on top of the podium here in what is my sixth consecutive win at 100 Acre Wood,” said Block. “I absolutely love these roads here in Missouri and I am stoked to have been able to come out with this new H.F.H.V. Fiesta and win in its first stage rally. We built the H.F.H.V. (Hybrid Function Hooning Vehicle) to be able to do RallyCross, Gymkhana and stage rally. We spent time testing for stage rally, but this was its premier as a stage rally car and I am very happy with the Fiesta. We did a lot of testing with the H.F.H.V. to make sure we would be ready and we did exactly what wanted to do.”
The last time Block was at 100 Acre Wood, he was running in just his second rally for Ford Racing and was the lone Ford Fiesta in the field as he claimed victory. Twenty-four months later there is not only a growing presence in the 2WD class, but Fiesta is dominating the class.
Chris Duplessis claimed his second 2WD class win of 2012 driving the LA Shoe Company Ford Fiesta R2 to victory by nearly three minutes over Andrew Comrie-Picard. Dillon Van Way and the 300 hp turbo Fiesta missed out on second by only 2.8 seconds after they took a twenty second penalty for a flat tire. Ed McNelly and the Team O’Neil Motorsport Fiesta R2 endured a rollover accident badly damaging the rear of his Fiesta, but he finished fourth just 39 seconds behind Van Way.
“The Fiesta was awesome all weekend, not one issue,” said Duplessis who has now won three straight Rally American National Championship events in an Fiesta R2. “We started out strong and kept going all weekend. We came in with our fingers crossed because this event was the eighth rally for this Fiesta R2 motor, gearbox and everything. In rally years that is really old so we had some concern we might have to address an issue here and there, but once again the reliability of this Fiesta is unbelievable and we went strong no problem all weekend.”
“This is a great place to be sitting, two rallies into the championship with two wins under your belt,” said Duplessis who won seven of the first eight stages. “Hopefully we can keep doing it. I’d love to win them all this season and I really think we can put the Fiesta R2 on the overall podium at some point which is unheard of for a 2WD car, but the Fiesta R2 is that good. Right now we are going to just keep taking wins as them come.”
For Dillon Van Way it was his second podium of the season and for the second straight event he narrowly missed finishing second. “Third isn’t where we want to be,” said the 2009 2WD national champ. “We came here hoping for a win we had a lot of issues with the brakes and that really hurt us. All in all we were only second by 2.8 seconds and that was after we had a twenty second penalty for a flat tire. With a clean run we would have been right there with Chris and fighting for the win. Hopefully we can have a clean run in Oregon and show off what this Fiesta can do.”
Rookie driver Ed McNelly driving in just his second National Championship event, missed the 2WD podium by 39 seconds after having run in the top three late in the rally. A rollover incident on Stage 14 which badly damaged the rear of his Fiesta was the difference in a podium finish.
“This run on gravel was crazy,” said McNelly, who is the lead mechanic for the Team O’Neil Driving School. “This Fiesta R2 is amazing because you can put it where you want. What really got me was when we rolled the car landed on its wheels and started and then it went down the stage just as fast as it did before the rollover. Come on, what other car is gonna do that? If it wasn’t for the damage to the rear hatch you wouldn’t even have known we had a rollover.”
Rally America returns to action May 4-6 in Oregon for the Oregon Trail Rally.