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WASHINGTON -- After a six-week hiatus, the Rally America Championship resumes this weekend with the Olympus Rally in western Washington. Ken Block and the Monster World Rally Team have been on a whirlwind tour that has seen Block travel around the world in the last week, from the World Rally Championship stop in Turkey to the Fiesta media launch in San Francisco, and now to the heart of logging country in the great Northwest. Ford Racing caught up with Block prior to testing his Monster World Rally Team Fiesta before the Olympus Rally.
Q. LAST WEEK YOU RAN YOUR SECOND WRC EVENT IN THE FOCUS RS AND YOU ENDED THE EVENT ON THE UPSWING WITH A SEVERAL SOLID RUNS.
A. Turkey was my second WRC event and for me it was very difficult. There were some amazing roads on the course and a huge variety of roads from some very fast stuff to some of the roughest roads I have ever seen in my life. It was a great event, but unfortunately the result overall wasn’t good for me because on the first day on the first stage I clipped a small stump and broke the steering arm. Unfortunately, as soon as that happens, I am out of the top running and I do something called Super Rally, which is where they add time onto every stage until you start again the next day. That next day I started basically on Stage 10 and put in a sixth fastest time, which is very good considering I am racing some of the top drivers in the world and am able to put in a mid-pack time. It is probably hard for a lot of people to understand, but in World Rally it takes years to get up to the top speeds. For me to be able to post a top six time in only my second event is an amazing and certainly not where I expected I would be running at this point having just entered WRC. So overall, it was very very encouraging and I actually set two more top-six stage times on Sunday, so it proved that it wasn’t just a fluke. So while I finished 24th overall, the fact I was able to post three top-six stage times is a huge accomplishment and it gives me a lot of encouragement going into the next WRC event.
Q. AFTER THE WRC EVENT YOU TRAVELED TO SAN FRANCISCO FOR THE FIESTA MEDIA DRIVE PROGRAM AND TO UNVEIL THE GYMKHANA THREE FIESTA. UNFORTUNATELY, YOUR TRIP WAS REROUTED DUE TO THE ICELAND VOLCANO AND YOU ENDED UP CIRCULING THE GLOBE TO GET TO SAN FRANCISCO.
A. That little volcano has messed up a lot of our plans. Instead of going Turkey to Frankfurt to San Francisco in what is a semi-convenient way to get home, I actually had to go from Turkey to Dubai to Korea to San Francisco, which added a lot of time to the trip. It took me about 40 hours to get home. I showed up in San Francisco quite blurry and, in fact, I am still feeling the effects of the trip. We did have a great event in San Francisco. Ford, DC and Monster put on an unveiling party for us there in San Francisco to bring out the Gymkhana THREE Fiesta. Olsbergs MSE has put together a great vehicle for me to go out and do Gymkhana events and filming, and this was the first time we showed the public the car. We have only done one test with the car, but we are basically getting it ready to do a bunch of different events in filming this summer.
Q. NOW IT IS OFF TO RALLY AMERICA AND YOU HAVE HAD SIX WEEKS TO ENJOY THE VICTORY IN MISSOURI. AND NOW IT IS BACK TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT.
A. This weekend is the Olympus Rally, which last year I did very good at this rally. I was leading going into the second day, but I had a turbo blow on the first stage of the second day. I have a lot of confidence at this rally and I really enjoy it. So, while it has been very tiring and difficult for me to go from Turkey to San Francisco and now to here, this event is very important and I have to move past the fatigue. I have a full day of testing today and we have recce tomorrow and the race is Saturday and Sunday. I am really looking forward to it and it is going to be difficult, but I am really looking to win this championship and I am sitting third overall right now (in the championship). We have only had two events and I had a little part break and a DNF in the first event in Michigan and we won the second event, which was the 100-Acre Woods. So I am sitting fairly decent in the championship running, but I need a good event this weekend to further that campaign.