Ken Block

Friday Video | Even closer to the edge – Ken Block’s Climbkhana

What’s the best way to tackle the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb? With a 1,400hp twin-turbocharged Ford Mustang, obviously.  
KB Climbkhana (C) Hoonigan Racing

ESM doesn’t quite know what to make of Ken Block. Here’s clearly an immensely talented driver, and proficient businessman, yet success in top-level motorsport has eluded him.

Maybe it doesn’t matter. He’s built up an empire from DC Shoes, and created a number of toys to play with, like the latest Hoonicorn V2 Mustang.

In his latest video in the Gymkhana series, Block reenacts the epic Climb Dance short film created in 1988. In it, legendary WRC driver Ari Vatanen set a new record at Pikes Peak, when the course was still predominantly loose dirt and gravel.

Kenny B had the benefit of Pikes Peak being paved all the way to the top, but that doesn’t stop it still being an epic drive. Climbing some 4,720ft along a track measuring over 12 miles, Pikes Peak requires skill and concentration to master. Oh, and bravery, for when you get a little too close to the edge:

Is it more dramatic than the record-setting run by Sébastien Loeb in 2013? Undoubtedly. Is it as achingly cool as Ari Vatanen’s 1988 effort? Hmmm, we’ll let you be the judge of that…

Image: (C) Hoonigan Racing

Friday Video – Porsche Cayman GT4 vs. Ford Focus RS

Ok, there’s a little bit of artistic licence used in the title for today’s feature. But we do have ‘in-action’ footage of two of the hottest new cars from this week: the Porsche Cayman GT4 and the Ford Focus RS. 

Ford Focus RS v Porsche Cayman GT4

Both of these caused the Twittersphere to descend into meltdown it seems, especially Porsche officially announcing the Cayman GT4 just as everyone was going to bed. Thanks for that Zuffenhausen. So, without further ado, here’s the very yellow GT4 in a video showing a distinctly German sense of humour:

Although there’s not a huge deal of on-track footage, it’s safe to say the Cayman GT4 sounds rather awesome, and also appears to go sideways rather happily. On a side note, the video was made with the help of Skynamic – the firm responsible for the epic drone-cam video from the 2013 Monte Carlo rally. It’s worth checking out their website for the ‘intro’ movie alone.

Ford have taken a slightly less subtle approach for the Focus RS, employing Ken Block – of Gymkhana ‘hooning’ fame – to, well, hoon about in their new superhatch. Block has been taken on by Ford as a consultant, so we can expect the Focus RS to come with a free clip-on beard and pair of DC shoes. Maybe. We could mention something snarky about WRC too, but we’ll be kind on this occasion.

The video was obviously filmed before the official unveiling, hence the disguised bodywork, as Ken rips around Ford’s Cologne factory. Fun fact – the Focus isn’t actually produced at the Cologne plant, but at the Saarlouis factory instead; be sure to tell your friends that. Like the GT4, it’s clear the Focus RS is very capable of going sideways and makes a lot of noise too.

We’re tempted to ask which would you pick but, with the mid-engined coupe costing more than twice what the Focus RS probably will, it’s kind of an unfair question.

Kenny From The Block

ESM cannot help but notice that over on YouTube a LOT of people are talking about a certain video. No, not the one ESM featured last week, or even the baby monkey riding on a pig. The internets are currently very into this one:

Over 21 million viewers (as of today) can’t be bad surely? Well, I guess not. But, for whatever reason, I just don’t really buy into the whole Ken Block/Gymkhana thing.

Undoubtedly I appreciate that the level of skill and car-control to do the things Block does in that video are incredible. Jumping the hills of San Francisco sideways whilst drifting?! That is genuinely insane. Doing doughnuts on a floating barge also takes tremendous faith in knowing where the car ends and the water starts.

Ken is certainly talented behind the wheel of a car, doing stunts and yanking on the handbrake. Does this make him a great racing driver? ESM would be inclined to say “hmm, well, probably not dude”. His performance on the WRC circuit has been sporadic; typically only competing in half the rounds throughout the season. His best actual result has been 8th on last year’s Rallye de France. An impressive result in isolation, but Kimi Raikkonen managed better even with his whimsical approach to rallying.

Block and his Ford Fiesta have also seemingly created a generation of drivers who think sticking huge Monster energy drink stickers to random bits of their car will give them his level of car control. Essentially, it’s no cooler than sticking a picture of the Tetley Tea Folk to your back bumper.

So before ESM turns into too much of a boring old man, here’s one of Block’s good friends (Travis Pastrana) doing a ridiculous jump in a Subaru Impreza from a couple of years ago. Enjoy: