American X Games and YouTube star Ken Block returns to Brother Rally New Zealand for his second ever crack at the event being held over roads in the Kaipara, Northland, Raglan and Auckland districts from 21 to 24 June.
The seventh round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) has been nominated by 44-year-old Block as one he is to contest as part of his build-up to a full-time title campaign.
A co-founder of footwear company DC Shoes, Block is a fan favourite the world over and is desperate to get a breakthrough win in the WRC.
Having posted two top five stage times in his last outing on New Zealand shores back in 2007, Block has fond memories of the rally. He also competed in three other local events on New Zealand roads that year so he has a bit of an idea of what to expect.
"I'm most looking forward to the amazing roads," the California native says ahead of his return.
"Most of the roads I've only driven the once, but I love the banked camber of the turns."
Block will be behind the wheel of his M-Sport-prepared Monster World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC for just the second time this season. His only other appearance in the World Rally Championship this year saw him bring his Ford home in ninth place in Rally Mexico and collect two championship points in the process.
An extreme sports lover, Block has become famous for his stunt driving escapades with many of his adventures recorded on video website YouTube. He has competed in many action sports events including skateboarding, snowboarding, and motocross throughout his career and has been the most recognised American rally driver over the past few years having won a silver medal and two bronze X Games medals in rally driving and is the sole American to compete in the WRC.
Aside from rallying, Block is a dedicated family fan - he has three children with wife Lucy - and is known for his corporate skills in helping make DC Shoes the successful world-wide company it is today.
Despite all of his business commitments and time spent on his extreme sport endeavours, rallying often has to take a back seat but Block says it is still his number one passion.
"I try all day long to make time to go rallying," he adds. "With one aim: to win!"
Block's first appearance will be at the Rally Family Day being held at Auckland's Viaduct Events Centre this Sunday 17 June. There for the driver signing that begins at 12:30pm, Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino have precious little time to reacquaint with their surroundings before reconnaissance of the rally route begins on the Monday.
The pair will join with their fellow competitors for a parade down Queen Street at 4.30pm Thursday 21 June driving their cars. That will be followed by a ticketed welcome function to officially open the event where the WRC drivers will select their starting positions based on their qualifying stage times. A new MotorExpo and FanZone will operate inside rally headquarters at the Viaduct Events Centre throughout Friday 22 June to Sunday 24 June. Entry is free and alongside great vehicle displays and interactive entertainment, fans can watch the only big screen television showing live rally footage from out on the course. Numerous prime and other spectator viewing areas offer excellent opportunities to watch the high speed action in person across all three days of the event. Sunday's action includes the free-for-everyone Auckland Domain super special stage before the ceremonial finish at 3:30pm near the Viaduct Events Centre on Auckland's waterfront.
Detailed spectator and ticket information and current news is available on the event website www.rallynz.org.nz or follow the event on Facebook or Twitter.
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