Block And Gelsomino, New Zealand 2015, Pt. 2


Following their first race of the year (and win!) up in Whangarei, New Zealand, less than a month ago, Hoonigan Racing Division’s Ken Block, and co-driver Alex Gelsomino, returned to the land of Kiwis for their second event of the 2015 season, Rally Otago, based in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Block and Gelsomino started out on Saturday morning, racking up two Stage wins in their first three Stages and getting off to a seemingly great start. However, towards the end of SS3, Block’s Ford Fiesta HFHV began having slight engine hiccups in higher gears. The pair continued pushing on, starting SS4, but were forced to retire shortly into the Stage due to a dead engine. The culprit? A simple mechanical issue (engine sensor wire that had become frayed). Gutted, the boys retired temporarily and missed the majority of the day’s Stages until they were able to rejoin after a late-afternoon service. But, by then, the damage was done and their hopes of adding another win to their season were over.

Despite the setback, Block went out on the last Stage of Saturday, a Super Special near downtown Dunedin with a crowd of thousands in attendance, and won it.

Sunday saw Block and Gelsomino demonstrate the speed and form that they’d possessed less than 30 days earlier up in Whangarei. With multiple Stage wins and fast pace, the HRD duo ended up winning leg 2 of Rally Otago, ending the weekend on a semi-high note.

“I’m definitely disappointed,” said Block. “We came down here to do well and try and add another win to the season. I feel that we were in a good position to do so but unfortunately a very small mechanical issue managed to completely sideline us and derail that effort. It’s frustrating, but that’s rally and motorsports in general. I’m glad we were able to rejoin the event at the Super Special today however and win that. It’s not the total victory I was looking for, but given the circumstances, I’m ok with it. For the second time in only a few weeks, I was able to drive on the greatest rally roads in the world again, so in the grand scheme of things, that’s pretty awesome.”

With Rally Otago being complete, the next event for Block will be the opening round of the 2015 Global Rallycross Championship, taking place in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, over the weekend of May 30th.

Ken Block Starts His Season With A Win In New Zealand: The International Rally Of Whangarei 2015










Whangarei, NZ: Having not been behind the wheel of one of his Ford Fiesta racecars on a proper gravel rally stage since mid-October at WRC Spain last year, Hoonigan Racing Division’s Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino dusted off the cobwebs in spectacular fashion, bringing home a win on their first outing of 2015, which took place at the International Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand.

After two days of testing earlier in the week, Block started the rally on Friday night with two super specials right within the city of Whangarei. The rally had two separate events running simultaneously, the opening round of the 2015 Asia Pacific Rally Championship and the first round of the New Zealand National Championship. Block and his Ford Fiesta HFHV rally car were entered in the later. Coming out of Friday night in first overall in the National Championship Block was third overall when factoring in the competitors in the APRC event.

Saturday saw Block improve upon those standings however, maintaining the lead in the National Championship across the eight stages of the day, as well as pulling ahead of the drivers in the APRC as well (at one point in the day Block had built up almost a 30 second lead on the top APRC car, only to lose almost all of it back due to a mechanical issue), to end the day first overall in the entire event. Stats for end of day Saturday were a 1:09 second lead in the NZNC and 0.6 seconds overall in front of the top APRC driver.

Sunday had the duo maintain their rapid pace along the best rally stage roads on the planet, continually knocking down top stage finishes and building upon their leads. At the end of it all, Block and Gelsomino finished the entire event first overall, with a final time of 2:54.53.6, 36 seconds ahead of the leader in the APRC event and over 2 minutes of the leader of the NZRC event.

“I had a great event down here in Whangarei this week,” said Block. “This is the exact start to my 2015 season that I was looking for and I’m stoked that I was able to kick things off like that down here on some of the best stage rally roads in the entire world. I don’t get to do as much rally as I’d like these days since my focus is rallycross, so this was awesome. The whole event was a ton of fun, from our testing earlier in the week to the stages during the event. I’d also like to compliment the event organizers for putting on a world-class event and the fans for coming out to support. I’m definitely looking forward to Otago in a few weeks on the south island, hopefully I can add another win to my season.”

With the win at Whangarei, Block becomes the first non-New Zealander to ever win Whangarei and the first American to win an international rally in recent history. Block’s next competitive event is Rally Otago, May 8-10, which also takes place in New Zealand.

Ken Block Preps For His First Race Of 2015 - International Rally Of Whangarei In New Zealand


Whangarei, NZ: After much anticipation, Hoonigan Racing Division’s Ken Block is kicking off his 2015 race season this coming weekend in New Zealand. His first event of the year will be the International Rally of Whangarei, located on the North Island of New Zealand and starting today he’ll be commencing with two days of testing to prepare for the event.

“I’m excited to finally get back behind the wheel of my Ford Fiesta HFHV and doing proper stage rally,” said Block. “I haven’t had the chance to drive competitively since mid-December, and since my main focus these days is rallycross, not stage rally, logging some proper stage miles with my co-driver Alex [Gelsomino] is going to be a fun time. It’s also a big bonus for me that the roads down here in New Zealand are some of my absolute favorites in the world. Cambered, undulating gravel roads? Sounds like a great way for me to kick off this season.”

Block has raced in New Zealand six times earlier in his career, first competing in 2007 four times (Otago, Whangarei, the 2007 WRC round and Nelson Rally), including making podium with a 3rd overall finish at Nelson. In between the WRC round and Nelson that same year, he filmed a segment for DC Shoes Mtn.Lab 1.5, a video in which he drove around a snowboard park with fellow DC athletes and also jumped a Group N rally car off multiple snowboard jumps (and subsequently cracked a vertebrae!). He also competed in a Group N car in the 2008 round of WRC New Zealand and then made a return in 2012 when he competed in the New Zealand WRC round in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, an event where he made the top ten with a 9th overall finish.

With a 2015 season focus on the Global Rallycross Championship back in America, Block is only able to work in four stage rally events this season. International Rally of Whangarei will be the first of two rounds of the New Zealand National Championship that Block will contest in 2015—Otago Rally being the other—and the other two stage rallies he competes in during this season will be Rally America’s NEFR and LSPR events. To see how he does this weekend, be sure to follow along on Block’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.