Park City, Utah - Hoonigan Ken Block is now better known as a stunt driver and master drifter in a succession of Gymkhana videos, starting with a lightly modified rallycross-spec Ford Fiesta and winding up with a monster 1030kW all-wheel drive 1965 Mustang, but he began his career as a rally driver.
Now he’s going back to the rallying - but in a 25-year-old car! He and long-time navigator Alex Gelsomino will be competing in three rounds of the 2018 American Rally Association series - the Oregon Trail Rally, the New England Forest Rally and the Idaho Rally International - in a 1993 Ford Escort Cosworth RS rally car, against modern S2000 rally cars.
He’s also committed to three rounds of American Rallycross and the Austin, Texas round of World Rallycross with the vintage Escort, as well as the Rally of Spain (in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC), selected rounds of World Rallycross in a Focus RS RX - and he’s promised to release Gymkhana 10 this year. Not shy, our Kenneth.
The Cosworth has been mildly updated with an upgraded 1997 two-litre WRC engine (alloy block in place of cast iron, modified head and block to cope with the extra power, a stiffer wastegate spring on the gynormous Garrett turbo) and delivers about 295kW and 550Nm, driving all four wheels (new Fifteen52 Tarmac rims and Toyo R1R tyres) via a seven-speed sequential gearbox and the (very complicated) original centre differential.
Apparently the gearbox was designed as a six-speeder but the original YBT turbofour was so peaky that Cosworth had to drop in another, lower gear to get the car off the line faster on tarmac stages - so it is, in effect, a six-speed ‘box with underdrive!
Watch as Block tests the restomodded Cosworth in the Arizona desert, making adjustments to the suspension, engine management, and roll cage to get it ready for competition.