Ken Block’s GYMKHANA NINE: Raw Industrial Playground

Over the years, we have written many times about the infamous Gymkhana series, so it should come as no surprise we are writing about the latest installment. All of the earlier videos have become viral sensations, because the King of “Hoon”, Ken Block continues to push the boundaries behind the wheel.  The new and ninth version likely will too, as it captures the epic “Hooning” tradition of the rally star and his drifting genius.

While it was originally scheduled to be filmed in Sydney to tie in with the Australian Forza Horizon 3 video game, authorities said Block was too much of a “Hoon” for the Land Down Under and would only allow him to make the video on private property.  Instead, Block chose to film in an abandoned industrial area in New York state. Yeah Buffalo!

With so many global corporations shying away from the single big endorsement deal as a result of today’s fragmented online world we do appreciate Ford’s decision to buck the trend.  The combination of a significant amount of both resources and dollars enables the team to create a world-class product in the Gymkhana video series.

As part of Block’s deal with Ford Performance that sees him compete in the FIA World Rallycross championship, these videos feature him driving the custom-built 600 horsepower Ford Focus RS rally machine.  I’m sure the real ROI isn’t great, but it does make you want to take a Ford Focus for a test drive.

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It’s that time of year again and Ken Block has outdone himself!

Earlier today, Hoonigan, Ford and Need For Speed posted Ken Block’s Gymkhana SEVEN – Wild in the Streets: Los Angeles.  Having covered the epic “Gymkhana video series” for the past few years there is nothing in the world like it and Ken Block has certainly upped the ante with this new installment.

With some help from the Hollywood Hills and post apocalyptic Los Angeles, Ken and his corporate A-team of sponsors sure know how to make the ultimate drifting video.

This new video captures all the sounds and sheer genius skill of Ken Block as he tears through LA in his custom 1965, 845 horsepower fire-breathing Mustang. Honestly, enough of our words, just go ahead and enjoy this 12 minute video and be glad you don’t have to pay for Kenny’s tire bill.

Another Gymkhana Battle for the Ages

As our regular readers know we have always been interested in covering the Gymkhana drifting scene so we would be remiss if we did not post this new video from Pikes Peak International Hill Climb champion Mike Ryan. The new video features Mike in his heavily modified Freightliner Cascadia (by Banks Power) and a drift-ready Nissan 240SX driven by Daniel Leavitt. Together with a solid team of stunt professionals Mike and Daniel drive their rides to the limit incorporating everything from tandem drifts, insane jumps to unreal burn-outs.  Honestly, after watching this epic video we are starting to think Ken Block may not be the King for too much longer…..

 

2014 Ford Fiesta ST

The Ford Fiesta is the vehicle of choice by rally car racer, and RedlineNorth favourite, Ken Block.  You can see him in his Fiesta ripping around various urban race tracks in his immensely popular Gymkhana racing series. While you can’t go out and buy Ken’s version of the Fiesta, you can get a street legal ST version that gives you almost as much fun.

2014 Ford Focus ST

2014 Ford Focus ST

Thanks in part to Ford’s movement towards a global platform, North American buyers are now able to purchase the ST version of the Fiesta.  While not a three-door as in Europe, on this side of the pond we get a five-door hatch-back version sporting a 1.6 litre turbo charged engine.  The Fiesta ST has a trifecta of performance, ability and style making it a fantastic choice for those looking for a city vehicle, with perhaps a day or two at the track thrown in.

The ST version of the Fiesta comes well equipped as the top of the line trim level with a base price of $24,999. Our RedlineNorth test vehicle also included a power moon-roof, 17 inch premium painted wheels as well as a navigation package. All told the additional options brought the final price to $29,577.  While thirty grand might raise some eyebrows for a sub-compact vehicle, the ST is packed with performance enhancing features and well worth the sticker price.

Those looking for a pure luxury vehicle should look elsewhere, as this car is built for performance. However, attention to detail has not been lost on Ford engineer’s and the Fiesta does provide a number of nice touches.  Heated front seats and mirrors along with a push button start, rear seat heat ducts and 12-volt auxiliary power outlets for both front and rear round out some of the nice to have features. 

The leather wrapped shifter adds to the interior look and feel

The leather wrapped shifter adds to the interior look and feel

Legroom in the Fiesta ST, as to be expected in a sub-compact, is somewhat limited with 42 inches up front and 31 inches in the back.  Cargo space is adequate for trips to the grocery store and the seats split 60/40 when additional storage is required.  While the Fiesta ST may not be the first choice of vehicle for long road trips, that’s not what it’s designed for either.  The first hint are the Recaro seats that suck you in and keep you in your place while cornering.  These seats are big and perhaps look just slightly out of place in the ST, however, that’s the price you pay for race track type performance. Seat adjustments, even for the driver’s seat are manual reinforcing the enthusiast nature of the ST model.

The Recaro seats quite literally put you in your place and keep you there

The Recaro seats quite literally put you in your place and keep you there

The 1.6L turbocharged EcoBoost Engine delivers 197 horsepower and 202 lb.-ft of torque when using 93 octane fuel.  The 6 speed manual transmission is silky smooth and an absolute pleasure to shift throughout the whole gear range.  The shift ratio is short in the low end utilizing the 202 ft.-lbs of torque bringing you up to about 75 kilometers per hour by the end of second gear.  The ratio smooths out in the upper gears providing some fuel economy savings.

At highway speeds the Fiesta provides a firm, but comfortable ride.  With its twist-beam rear suspension, that reduces under steer and increases rear roll stiffness, a low centre of gravity and its sport suspension the Fiesta ST grips the road well.  It provides the driver with full control of all the power from under the hood.  In short, the Fiesta ST is an absolute blast to drive.

Unlike its larger cousin, the Focus ST, the Fiesta ST does not require premium fuel, however, there are additional performance gains when using 93 octane which is important to note.  The US EPA rates the Fiesta ST at 26 mpg city (9.0L/100 km) and 35 mpg (6.7L/100 km) highway.  We experienced slightly higher numbers than this during our test period, however, we weren’t necessarily driving with a conscious effort towards fuel efficiency.

The ST version of the Fiesta enjoys a more aggressive look compared to its base model

The ST version of the Fiesta enjoys a more aggressive look compared to its base model the Fiesta

ST offers some nice exterior and interior styling to match the performance under the hood. On the outside, wide wheel arches, dual chrome exhaust tips, an airfoil and 17 inch alloy wheels all contribute to a more aggressive style than the stock Fiesta.   While on the inside, buyers can choose from a variety of colours for the interior ambient lighting found in the foot wells and cup holders, which is a nice touch.  The leather accented Recaro seats and the race-inspired aluminum pedals also contribute to a very pleasing interior.

The Fiesta ST offers some nice exterior and interior styling to match the performance under the hood. On the outside, wide wheel arches, dual chrome exhaust tips, an airfoil and 17 inch alloy wheels all contribute to a more aggressive style than the stock Fiesta.   While on the inside, buyers can choose from a variety of colours for the interior ambient lighting found in the foot wells and cup holders, which is a nice touch.  The leather accented Recaro seats and the race-inspired aluminum pedals also contribute to a very pleasing interior.

The Sony branded audio system provides a good sound experience. We especially liked the ability to adjust the audio balance for the driver only, or for the whole car at the touch of a button. The center media stack uses SYNC currently running Microsoft Windows.  While Ford recently announced they will be switching over to a Blackberry QNX based operating system for the next generation SYNC, the current Windows powered SYNC performed well in the Fiesta ST.  We found the summary start up screen displaying information in four quadrants both helpful and convenient. The 6.5 inch LCD screen, 2 USB ports, SD card reader and voice-activated communications all provided an intuitive in car interface which we felt was better than average.  As an added bonus a six month subscription to SirusXM satellite radio comes with the purchase of a new ST in Canada.

FiestaST_55

At around $30,000 CAD the fully loaded Fiesta ST does command a somewhat premium price, however, its value is significant based on its stellar performance, and range of features.  Its smooth 6 speed manual transmission and great handling characteristics are complimented by some slick interior features. The Fiesta ST, is a great car to consider for around the city that will make your drive to work or to the grocery store a lot more fun.

Key competitors to the Fiesta ST are the Fiat 500 Abarth, Ford’s own Focus ST, along with the Honda Civic Si and the Chevy Sonic RS.

Video of Ken Block’s scary crash at Lake Superior Performance Rally

We regularly cover news on the indelible Ken Block and this is another story we thought worth sharing.  Back in October, Ken Block and co driver/navigator Alex Gelsomino needed a win at the Lake Superior Performance Rally to take the 2013 Rally America championship. However, this was not to be as the boys missed a clump of dirt in the road along with a word in the pace notes resulting in their Ford Fiesta becoming airborne and tumbling over five times.

Check out this video interview as Ken and Alex describe what went wrong on the course that day. Thankfully they both walked away from the crash uninjured.

The video reveals Block’s incredible competitive streak as you see him start the engine and attempt to get back on the course as soon as the car stops rolling.  The only problem is the front wheels were both gone…..

Here are some more images from the crash captured by Jalopnik.

Ken Block’s RaptorTrax

In the spirit of this month’s Sochi Winter Olympics we thought this was a very cool story to share.  Driver extraordinaire Ken Block has debuted a new creation from Ford called the RaptorTrax.  This unreal modified Ford Raptor has swapped its wheels for snow trax to become the greatest winter vehicle. Of course with Ken Block behind the wheel putting it through its paces is a bit of an understatement.  Check out this photo montage of his new toy in action as well as a start-up in this crazy machine.

Here’s another clip of Ken driving the RaptorTrax around town at last month’s X Games in Aspen. How fun would going through the drive-thru be?

Epic Drifting by Ryan Tuerck

Finally, it looks like Ken Block has some real competition.  Seriously, before everyone jumps all over me I know there are a bunch of other famous drifters in Block’s class like Tanner Foust and Vaughn Gittin Jr.  However, recently, drifter extraordinaire Ryan Tuerck took on an absolutely outrageous road in Oregon.  The epic video takes place on a newly paved mountain winding road and also includes some wicked tandem drifting from fellow drifter Rob Primozich.

Even if you are not into drifting you need to watch this video in full screen mode and with your volume cranked.

Ken Block’s Gymkhana Six

It’s that time of year again! Ken Block along with sponsoring partner Need for Speed have come out with a new installment of the epic “Gymkhana series”.  Having covered the infamous series for the past few years there is nothing in the world like it.  This latest version picks up where the fifth installment from the streets of San Francisco left off. Titled Gymkhana SIX: The Ultimate Gymkhana Grid Course this new version is set in an industrial area where once again Block is able to do the impossible; drifting between shipping containers, hitting man-made jumps while narrowly avoiding Lamborghini Aventadors and cops on Segways.

Ken-Block-Gymkhana-6

Ken Block in Gymkhana 6

After watching the six and half-minute video it’s no surprise this series is one of the most watched and shared web franchises of all time.  Ken Block truly is a magician while in the driver’s seat of his purpose-built, out of this world, 2013 Ford Fiesta ST RX43.  I only wish I was a member of Ford’s marketing team when the deal was signed to get Block to switch from Subaru.  I’m sure they pay him a pretty penny but seriously there is no better advertisement in the world for the blue oval.

Please beware after watching this film you may think you are a rally star but I’m afraid you will still be an armchair star like the rest of us.  Please note: video participant is the best professional stunt driver in the world…..Don’t try this at home.

Drifting videos

You may have already seen some of the coverage of rally superstar Ken Block‘s Toronto tour stop. Well, if you are wanting more on the event, the guys from Autoblog Canada have published their full interview with Ken.  Of course, the real cool part would be to see the video of their drive along which I guess we have to wait to see since they have not published it yet.  In the past, we have published many Ken Block Gymkhana videos which are always worth checking out.

On a related note, we recently came across a cool new drifting video created by Sylvania Canada. Shot in an undisclosed location SYLVANIA Canada and Canadian Tire teamed up to capture the beauty of drift racing at night. In making the video, drift drivers modified their cars with SYLVANIA Silverstar® zXe Twin Halogen Headlight Bulbs and absolutely rip it around a challenging outdoor course.

New Ken Block Video

Ken Block is featured in a new GoPro video camera ad barreling through a forest in Potosi, MO as part of his preseason training. For those not familiar with rally car racing you can see just how close drivers come to hitting trees and other obstacles in the off road course.  That’s where driver skill and co-driver navigation are critical, something that Ken and is co-driver Alex Gelsomino have in spades. Enjoy.

For more Ken Block check out his previous Gymkhana videos, here and here.