Sebastien Loeb

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

Volkswagen takes 2013 WRC Drivers’ Championship

He might have only needed one point, but Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier wasted no time in wrapping up the WRC Driver’s title on his home turf. 

VW WRC Ogier Title 001

With a third place on Rally France’s ‘Power Stage’ on the opening night of the event, Ogier cemented his grasp on his first World Rally Championship by making impossible for his nearest rival to mathematically beat him. With co-driver Julien Ingrassia alongside him, Ogier did just enough to end Sebastien Loeb’s grip on the trophy which has lasted for the past nine seasons.

Rally France 2013

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Volkswagen WRC – One point, one day from winning drivers’ title?

By this time tomorrow we could see the World Rally Championship mathematically won by Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier on home soil tarmac at Rally France.

VW Polo R WRC 001

Unlike most rounds of the World Rally Championship, Rally France will open with the ‘Power Stage’ which gives drivers the chance to win additional championship points. With Ogier needing just one point to claim the Drivers’ title, third place in tomorrow’s Power Stage would be all he needs to make his championship lead unbeatable.

Victory on the 4.55 km Strasbourg special stage would also give Ogier the green light to go into battle against that other rallying Sebastien, nine-time title winner Loeb, competing in what is expected to be his last WRC event. Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito has told the media that “we no longer need Séb to play it safe to earn more points” due VW’s convincing 48-point lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Ogier is certainly fired up for a weekend fighting Loeb in the Alsace, saying that his perfect weekend would be to “win the championship title and then come out on top in the duel with Loeb.”

So, in 24 hours time, we could see a new World Rally Champion continuing the theme of the Drivers’ title being won by a Frenchman named Seb. Just this time he’ll be behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo R WRC. EngageSportMode will be watching with bated breath to see if the 6R Polo can confirm its WRC credentials, so check back soon for news on whether Ogier succeeded in wrapping up the 2013 title.

Can the Volkswagen Polo R WRC save rallying?

You may, or may not, know that the Monte Carlo Rally is currently underway. But given the lack of a British TV deal for the WRC, I’m going to go with most people not being aware that the 81st running of the most famous rally is going on right now.

Growing up, rallying was a big deal in our house. My Father had spent many occasions trampling through the woods at night to watch headlights, followed by taillights of cars competing on the RAC Rally. I personally have frozen myself silly, been showered with gravel/mud/water and drank coffee from a flask, watching rally cars fly past a few feet away. Compared to other forms of motorsport, rallying always was the one you could get closest to.

I grew up in the McRae era, watching that famous blue and gold Subaru Impreza being driven on, and beyond, the limit of physics and sanity. In later years, I watched the dominance of Tommi Makinen and the all-conquering Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Then, a certain Frenchman came along, and my love for rallying stalled.

You cannot argue with Sebastien Loeb’s ability; winning nine WRC World Championships is an extraordinary achievement. But his single dominance of the sport for the best part of decade, coupled with shorter rallies, shorter stages and loss of major events killed my passion for the WRC. Perhaps what annoyed me most, was Loeb’s dominance in a car that didn’t even have a real road version. There was never a 4WD, 300bhp, Citroen Xsara or C4, compared to the countless Imprezas and Lancers offered for sale.

But this year, my interest in rallying has been turned up a notch, chiefly due to the arrival of this:

2013_volkswagen_polo_r_wrc_red_bull_01-1211-m_610x450

2013_volkswagen_polo_r_wrc_red_bull_02-1211-m_610x450

2013_volkswagen_polo_r_wrc_red_bull_05-1211-m_610x450

Admittedly, I am slightly biased – it’s a Volkswagen, and it’s sponsored by Red Bull – but I reckon the Polo R WRC is one of the best looking motorsport creations for some time. It also has a strong chance of winning the title this year, given that Volkswagen Motorsport are the only full-factory team competing in the 2013 WRC season.

EngageSportMode will be backing the VW Polo R WRC this season; it’s just a shame it won’t be watching it on TV.