Ken Block Presents His New Ford Escort Ahead Of His World Tour
The fiery death of Block’s previous Escort Cosworth pushed the Gymkhana creator to build a better one in its placeby Michael Fira, on
Do you love the Group A era in the World Rally Championship? Well, then I’ve got some good news for you! Ken Block rebounded from the horrific accident last year that saw his Escort Cosworth burn to a crisp and successfully built a new one he’ll take around the world, including to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
A mighty crash during last July’s American Rally Association (ARA) New England Forest Rally didn’t deter Ken Block. The part-stuntman, part-business man, and part-rally and rallycross driver got out of what was an immaculately prepared 1993 Ford Escort Cosworth RS and, as the car was fully engulfed in flames, started planning on what to do next. If you are familiar with Brock’s non-Gymkhana exploits, you’ll know that he’s no stranger to crashes, so this one wasn’t going to stop him. Indeed, as we wrote back in November, Block and Hoonigan have prepared a new Escort that’s, as expected, bigger and better than the previous one.
Ken Block Officially Has The Most Badass Cossie To Ever Tackle a Rally Stage
Ken Block is an interesting character. On the one hand, he rose to prominence with his many Gymkhana videos, the first of which came out over 10 years ago. Last year, Block delivered with the tenth installment of the Gymkhana series which seems to be the very last one. According to AutoWeek, "the new video is part of an eight-episode Amazon Prime series that documents not only the creation of the video but also gives insights into the life of its star. " The 17-minute video - unsurprisingly, the longest of them all - features multiple locations around the world and five different cars, such as the Hoonicorn and the Hoonitruck.
On the other hand, Ken Block is a legit racer and team owner. He ended his full-time involvement in rallycross racing a couple of years ago already after the Hoonigan Racing outfit that was competing with Ford’s support in the World RX left the series after Ford Performance decided to cease the program. In spite of this, the 51-year-old co-founder of DC Shoes has no plans to retire from racing.
Last year, Block returned to the American Rally Association stage rally championship with a 1993 Ford Escort Cosworth in Group A-esque specification.
The car churned out 397 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque from a 1997-specification Ford Escort WRC 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. The internals were basically all-new and modified, as were some body panels, the suspension and dampers, and many other things.
On its first time out, the Cosworth did surprisingly good finishing third overall and second in the O4WD class behind the all-conquering works-backed prototype Subaru Impreza WRX Sti of David Higgins and Craig Drew. After this event, that opened the 2018 ARA season, Block and Alex Gelosomino took part in the ARA New England Forest Rally in July. Things didn’t go to plan at the Cossie’s second appearance, sadly.
"We were running in third overall (with a gearbox problem), pressing on to finish Stage 4 when I turned into a tighter left corner and downshifted," said Block last year. "The box didn’t shift when I wanted it to, because of the mechanical issue, and when it finally did, it threw me into the inside of a corner and into a big rock," he added.
What happened next? Block explains: "That rock sent us rolling over twice. We landed on our wheels, and I was ready to get going again because we were shiny side up but, as you can see, a fire started really quick." The inferno that ensued makes for a sad viewing, but the good news is that both Block and Gelsomino got out unscathed.
The incident didn’t stop Block who bounced right back on his feet, writing on Facebook right after it all went down that "I am gutted to have had the Cossie burn up, but of course we will have to build a new one." And build another one he and his team they did - and it’s more insane than the previous one!
We tried to speculate how the ’Cossie V2’ will end up looking and, to be frank, it’s surpassing even our wildest expectations. First off, it’s important to mention this isn’t the same chassis as the one that burnt to the ground, but it’s still a genuine ’90s Escort Cosworth.
What the Hoonigans did is reimagine the car as a modern-day WRC car complete with the huge boxy fender flares with louvered air vents aft of the wheels.
The flares extend 4.3 inches beyond the line of the doors and, as expected, the side skirts follow them faithfully.
There are pipes that exit just before the rear flares and another one in the back.
In the front, the splitter is bigger than ever with vertical fins and bigger air intakes in the bumper. The oval vents on the hood are also slightly bigger, but the changes aren’t meant to make the car unrecognizable, just better at its job of dashing through dusty rallies quicker than ever. In the back, a C-pillar-mounted U-shaped wing that is synonymous with the Escort Cosworth RS is kept, as is the trunk extension down below to which the wing’s pillar connects. However, there’s change down below: a gather-all diffuser with six big fins and a shorter one in the middle, below the exhaust tip.
The Escort sits on menacing Fifteen52 Turbomac rims and is covered by a dazzling livery designed by none other than Troy Lee. The livery features the obligatory Monster Energy colors, some white areas covered by grey stars and some throwback triple blue stripes on the side that harken back to the 1987-1988 Group A Sierra Cosworth RS campaigned by the Ford team in the WRC. Block drives the car that replaced the Sierra as Ford’s weapon of choice from 1993 onwards.
The road-going Escort Cosworth RS was built in order for Ford to homologate the Group A rally car.
All the effort didn’t produce a world champion though. The car debuted at the 1993 Monte-Carlo Rally where Francois Delecour and Miki BIasion came home second and third after losing out to a hard-charging Didier Auriol aboard a works Toyota Celica. The Escort’s first win came in the 1993 Rally of Portugal in the hands of Delecour. After that, Delecour won again in Corsica and Biasion in Greece. The second half of the season, though, was marred with issues.
Delecour won in Spain, but that was far from enough because Toyota’s Juha Kankkunen won in Argentina, Finland, and Australia while Colin McRae was dominant in New Zealand, where Delecour came home second best. A double retirement in the San Remo rally was disastrous for the works team although the event was won overall by a private team using an Escort. In the end, Toyota and Kankkunen bagged both titles. The following season was even worse as Delecour was forced to miss four rounds after an injury.
Arguably the only high point of a season dominated by Toyota, besides Delecour’s season-opening win on The Monte, was Tommi Makinen’s one-off appearance aboard an Escort which he took to victory in the 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland. The Escort only won three more WRC-level rallies in 1996 and 1997, by which time it had been converted to World Rally Car specification. Carlos Sainz brought the car’s last three victories, and Patrick Bernardini won the 1996 Monte-Carlo Rally with an Escort too.
Block's car is powered by a beefed-up Ford YB 2.0-liter engine built by Julian Godfrey, the same kind of engine found in the Group A/WRC cars of the '90s.
However, in this guise the engine puts out 371 horsepower, all of it reaching all four of the wheels through a six-speed sequential transmission sourced from Sadev. That’s 28 ponies less than the previous Escort, suggesting that Block is focusing on driveability over out-and-out power with the ’Cossie V2’.
The duo of Block and Gelsomino, who’ve been together essentially ever since Block started doing rallies, are already entered in this month’s (15th-16th) 1000 Acre Wood Rally, a 124-mile rally in Salem, Missouri. They will again face off the Subaru Rally Team North America operation that comes with two cars in 2019 as well as at least one R5-spec Ford Fiesta.
This is just the first leg of Block's 'Cossie World Tour' that will see the car tackle some very interesting events worldwide such as the Rally Whangarei in New Zealand, the Donegal Rally in Ireland, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Gymkhana Grid in Poland, and Rally Legends in San Marino.
While this list is already impressive, more events might be added to the world tour so stay tuned for more places you can catch the Escort flying - unless it doesn’t end up burning in a ditch like the last one, and we keep all of our fingers crossed for that to NOT happen.
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