After having been out of the Ford Fiesta WRC since their last World Rally Championship appearance at Finland last summer, the Hoonigan Racing Division duo of Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino returned to WRC Mexico this weekend. The event also marked the pair’s 20th-ever race in a WRC car.
Despite not having any WRC testing prior to the race—and their last bit of WRC seat time being 8-months ago—Block and Gelsomino had a solid race strategy: keep it fairly conservative and just focus on having a good time and enjoying the stages since Mexico is currently their only WRC event on the 2013 race calendar. That strategy paid off with the pair achieving their best-ever WRC finish with a highly respectable 7th overall.
“I’m stoked with how this event turned out for me,” said Block. “I was a bit nervous coming into it since I hadn’t been in the WRC car since Finland last year. There were some new, tighter and more technical stages added this year and while my normal driving style suits fast, flowing roads a bit better, I really enjoyed the new stages. Plus, as always, the fans down here in Mexico are absolutely some of the best out there. They’re so passionate and enthusiastic, it really helps make this an amazing event.”
Heading into the rally with no pre-race testing, Block got things started on Thursday morning by kicking things off with a top-10 qualifying position—an impressive feat given his lack of recent WRC seat time. He then moved on into Friday, working his way into 7th overall by the end of the day. Saturday brought further advances as Block moved into 6th overall, which is where he ended the second full day of racing. Sunday brought more consistent top-10 stage times and a third day of highly competitive pace, although eventually former factory driver—and personal friend of Block’s who has previously podiumed second in WRC Mexico—Chris Atkinson edged out 6th overall from Block, pushing him back to 7th overall.
“I’m massively impressed with Ken’s performance this weekend,” said Team Manager Derek Dauncey. “The pace he kept in regards to the top drivers in this event surprised everyone, even myself. He was very quick on every stage, which is fantastic given that he was taking a more conservative approach. I’m very pleased that he’s walked away with his best-ever finish of 7th overall.”
While Rally Mexico is currently Block’s only WRC appearance scheduled for the 2013 season, Block will still be competing in all four of the upcoming Global X Games, as well as the full Global RallyCross championship and finishing out the 2013 Rally America calendar.