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.