Bushy Park, Barbados: Hoonigan Racing Division’s Ken Block started off his 2015 Global Rallycross Championship chase with a big win at the first event of the season in Ft. Lauderdale. From there he continued to dominate and build up a lead, winning three events in total as well as multiple podiums until he reached the double-header weekend in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. That’s when Block’s luck began to change for the worse, a trend that followed him through both rounds of Los Angeles and then down to Barbados this past weekend for another double-header weekend. A weekend which saw Block, unfortunately, surrender his Championship lead.
Block came into the Barbados double-header with a 13 point lead in the Championship—despite having had a hugely frustrating Los Angeles double-header weekend the two rounds previously that were both full of terrible luck for Block. In fact, Block had a great first lap of the LA2 Final and had been in 2nd place until he had a prop shaft fail, possibly from wheel-to-wheel contact during the race. Thus, instead of coming away with a podium and points, he ended up with 10th overall in the final, which was a major blow to his points lead. And, unfortunately for Block, that same momentum followed him down to Barbados.
Saturday’s race saw Block get off to a solid start, qualifying 4th overall and then purposely taking 6th in the knockout qualifying round that followed, with the reasoning being to conserve tires since the track in Barbados was the longest of the season and eating competitors tires. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. Block was 5th overall in his Heat (because of a Jump Start penalty) and then 5th overall in his Semi-Final (due to a front driveshaft failure). This forced Block into the Last Chance Qualifier, in which he got a great start and was leading the pack fighting to get into the Final.
However, the course featured a chicane prior to the jump that was made of crushed up coral, a course feature that fellow competitors decided to start cutting completely, effectively short-coursing the track. Block kept to the racing line for the entire event because he didn’t want to risk damage to his car and didn’t want to risk getting penalized for cutting the course, but he knew that his competitors might be cutting to overtake his first overall position in the LCQ. However, despite Block taking a slightly more aggressive racing line than he had been all day during lap one, his car ended up on two wheels, followed by then being on the roof. He ended up sliding the entire way up the jump on the roof, where the car was then thrown into the air for another rotation before landing on the roof slightly off the side of the jump. This ended Block’s chances of making it into the Final for Saturday’s race. Despite the roll, Block himself was 100% fine and the Hoonigan Racing Division techs were able to get the car repaired and ready for the second race on Sunday.
Sunday saw Block have a tough qualifying session due to small issues with the car following the rapid rebuild. In his Heat he ended up smacking into the right rear wheel of fellow Ford driver Patrik Sandell after Sandell stalled his Fiesta on the starting grid, directly in the way of Block’s launch. The impact destroyed Block’s front left wheel, forcing him to DNF the Heat. Block bounced back with a 3rd in his Semi- Final, which got him into the Final. Unfortunately, in the Final, Block’s bad luck resurfaced when he suffered a destroyed front right tire, causing him to DNF in the final.
“It was a really horrible weekend for me unfortunately,” said Block. “I came down here off of two really tough races full of bad luck in Long Beach and I thought I had all of that behind me. Unfortunately, despite qualifying well for Saturday’s event, I was hit with more mechanical bad luck and then I had the roll after hitting a portion of the course that myself and other drivers and team managers had pointed out was dangerous and could potentially damage or roll someone’s car. So, yeah, not really happy with how my Saturday went and then my Sunday was almost just as bad. I came in here still holding onto a lead in the Championship and now, despite our best efforts, I’m mathematically out from having any sort of shot at winning it this year. It’s crazy how I can go from having such an incredible year and leading the points to four unlucky races in a row and be out of the title chase! But, that’s racing and I’m going to keep pushing hard in Las Vegas when we get there. I’ve won that event the last two years in a row and I’d love to go for the hat trick there.”