We all have fun watching Ken Block wreak havoc at airports, docklands and logging roads and I’m sure he has about 10 times as much fun doing it but let’s not forget there is something larger at stake here. Namely, cubic money. As any racer will tell you, playing in a car (or cars) of that magnitude costs big money and big money has to be replenished or you don’t get to play any more.
To that end, Block needs to sell shoes, hats and tee shirts. He also needs to sell more than a few cans of Monster Energy drink. Oh yes, selling the odd car here and there would help too. The conundrum here is that while Subaru enjoys the spotlight block’s antics place on their brand, they seem content to remain a niche brand and the WRX models are a niche within that niche. Given that the best way for KB to sell more DC and Monster products is to go to the world stage, Block has had his eyes set on the WRC series for some time now. Not only does it offer him more challenge as a driver, but it offers exposure to the world outside of North America. Trouble is that Subaru have backed out of the WRC. Time to find a new manufacturer, one who is hungry to sell a car that is destined to be sold world wide.
If you recall, Ford has made motorsports an integral part of their resurrection plan. Mustang models for grass roots road and drag racing and Euro Focus models in X-Games and Pikes peak bring the Ford name to a new, youthful audience. They have also been winning just about everything they have entered. Perhaps the time has come for Ford to return to the top of the WRC heap with a rally star who is a household name in North America instead of small town Europe.
And so it seems that Ken Block and former Subaru driver Chris Atkinson are close to a deal which would see the Monster Energy Drink World Rally Team compete in roughly half of next year’s World Rally Cup in a 2009 spec Ford Focus. Speculation is that the 2011 season will see the team campaign the new Ford Fiesta on the full calendar.
Looks like we might start seeing WRC on TV here in North America again soon!