Last year, Ken Block announced that he would no longer race full-time in the World RX rally series. But he's not ready to retire from rallying completely, of course. The Gymkhana star will compete in four stage rally events this year, including his first World Rally Championship (WRC) stage since 2014. In the WRC Spain rally this October, Block will pilot a 2017 Fiesta RS WRC. But it's the car he'll be driving in the other events this year that has us most excited: a 1993 Ford Escort RS Cosworth.
Originally a European-market exclusive, the Ford Escort RS Cosworth, which was built as a homologation special so that it can qualify for Group A in the WRC. Under the hood of the Escort Cosworth was a 227-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four paired exclusively to a five-speed manual and putting power down to all four wheels. Between 1993 and 1998, the Escort Cosworth won eight events as a Group A racer and two as a WRC-spec car. It was later replaced by the Ford Focus WRC.
Block's Escort will wear a special livery created by Death Spray Custom. The rally-prepped Escort Cosworth is completely road-legal but the lack of a muffler and catalytic converter meant the side-mounted exhaust had to go in favor of a rear-mounted one. Under the hood is a modified 2.0-liter turbo-four that's good for about 350 hp paired to a seven-speed sequential gearbox, which is right on par with other cars in its group. The car also gets its own special wheels that look very similar to the once the production Escort Cosworth wore back in the '90s. Block is no stranger to turning vintage cars into incredible racing machines. In 2015, he built an Escort MkII with 333 hp, and last year he raced his 1,400-hp Hoonicorn 2.0 1965 Ford Mustang coupe up Pikes Peak.
In addition to the WRC race, Block plans to compete in three U.S. stage rallies with the vintage racer, including this weekend's Oregon Trail Rally, the New England Forest Rally in the summer, and the Idaho Rally International this fall. As for how he expects to place in each event, Block says that he's competing against modern vehicles and that the experience is more important than actually winning. He's also more interested in seeing how the Ford Escort Cosworth does against modern vehicles in stage rallying. We're interested, too, so we'll be following Block's progress a little more closely this season.
Check out the video below.