2019 Rally New Zealand Photos feat. Ken Block
As is tradition, I went to my hometown of Whangarei to watch the beginning of the FIA Rally Asia Pacific.
I wasn’t planning on going since I was very busy, until I received the news that Ken Block was coming back to compete - and this time he will use his Ford Escort Cosworth RS.
The last time he was in Whangarei was on my birthday in 2015, and this time he he is back with a car that is special to me and my friends - the Escort Cosworth was the poster car for V-Rally on the N64 yonks ago, and has been a favourite for many sims since then.
The fastest car in the pack was Hayden Paddon - a local hero who has been competing well in the WRC in recent years. You might remember him for causing a fatality among spectators a year ago in Rally Monte Carlo (as he crashed, a spectator lost his balance and fell down an embankment).
The Holden Barina was a popular choice and seemed to perform very well in this stage.
The Hawkeswood family are known in Rally NZ for owning the workshop that converts road cars into competition rally cars. They performed quite well, being near the head of the pack in the rally.
This is a well cambered corner and racing in the previous day caused some pot-holes to appear on the road. This pushed a few cars’ suspension to their limits - one car oversteered a lot - so much so that I thought it would crash.
Look at those flames! A few years ago this was on the side of the road with some issues.
If you remember my posts from years ago, you might remember a white FB RX7 in a livery similar to the SA22 - the driver was now in the white RX8 above.
At the end we were all waiting around for Ken Block to come speeding past in the Escort Cosworth - last time he competed he came first.
It appeared that no more cars were coming along but still we waited. One of the officials got the message on their radio that it was over and they will meet up for a coffee so we all left.
My plan was to go to the garage area and look for Ken Block’s car so we headed back into town.
The tents were all being packed away and the classic series cars (old Escorts, a Corolla and a Viva) were getting washed so we headed to the Town Basin to see the ending ceremony.
We saw Hayden Paddon in the parking lot, but the highlights of the ceremony were seeing these two - a Ford Escort and a Vauxhall Viva GT.
It wasn’t until a few days later that I found out why Ken Block didn’t show up - he had issues with the steering rack that would lead to him dropping out of the race. They tried to fix it, but the issue came back.
Here is a video from the man’s YT channel: