Ken block wins Rally Whangarei with Pirelli
International rally driving sensation Ken Block, a Pirelli brand ambassador, has won the Whangarei Rally in New Zealand with his Ford Fiesta HFHV (Hybrid Function Hoon Vehicle) on Pirelli’s Scorpion gravel rally tyres. The ‘gymkhana’ superstar took the lead of the event from the opening day, but had to battle some mechanical issues before making his triumph stick on the fast and flowing gravel roads of New Zealand’s North Island, through fantastical landscapes straight out of ‘Lord of the Rings’. Instead, the rings that Block is most closely associated with are tyre-smoking doughnuts: a hallmark of the American’s unique driving style – which has propelled his ‘gymkhana’ videos to more than 50 million views on YouTube.
“I had an absolute blast on these ridiculously fun New Zealand roads,” said Block. “They are just made for rallying. And I’ve been told that my co-driver Alex Gelsomino and I are the first-ever non-New Zealanders to win this rally, which is really cool to me. Big thanks to all the organisers and marshals for putting together a really fun and well-run rally. It’s the first race and the first win – a fantastic start to another epic season!”
Block won the New Zealand championship event by more than two minutes after 16 flowing stages, but at one point his lead had been reduced to just 0.6 seconds – ensuring a thrilling fightback all the way to the finish.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “Ken is a great guy and a fantastic ambassador not just for ourselves but for the whole of motorsport. Congratulations to him for winning an amazing rally through such fantastic scenery – and for becoming the first non-New Zealander ever to do so. When he’s not shredding them for burn-outs, Ken knows exactly how to get the best use out of our rally tyres: an ability that he proved once again today!”
In a double New Zealand celebration for Pirelli over the weekend, former World Rally Championship driver Alister McRae won the Race to the Sky hill climb in the Cardrona Valley in New Zealand driving an ex-Possum Bourne Subaru Impreza WRC, fitted with Pirelli rally tyres.
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