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Performance Profile – Ken Block

I saw the video piece on the New Zealand rally on your Web site. What I like most about that piece is what you say about how you feel as you prepare for a rally. You rarely get that kind of input from somebody who drives.

 


 

I think sometimes when you talk with a WRC driver, they’ve been entrenched in it for so long that they don’t look objectively sometime at what they’re doing to be able to tell the public how different it is or how dynamic it is. Where Travis and I have only been around a few years, and we’re still discovering the stuff, and we’re getting to these new levels where, “Wow! This is really taking a lot and pushing us a lot more mentally than we expected.” And here’s why and here’s how. Where those guys have been doing it for so long that it’s hard for them to even express it.

 

It’s actually interesting for us to go and learn, and go talk to people like Petter [Solberg] and [Marcus] Grönholm. It really helps us get a new perspective, and then we can turn around and comment on it. As we’ve gotten better and better, we’ve gotten to a certain level, but now we realize we’ve got to get to the next one.

 

You know, the two-pass recce [reconnaissance] is becoming more and more important, and when you’re really pushing in an event, it scares the shit out of you. If you’re not scared, you’re not going fast enough. And, then I’ve got to learn when I need to push and when I don’t need to push – and learn to be smart about the racing. That’s all really new for us.

 

It’s a great experience, and I look forward to learning more.

 

We always tend to take you and Travis at the same time, relative to your rallying.

 

I think the expectations on Travis have been a little higher than on me – which has kind of helped me, because it gives me a little breathing room to grow and do what I want as I need to, whereas Travis has been pushed a little harder into the PWRC.

 

I genuinely want to go beyond the U.S. Championship. But I want to do it at my own pace, when I’m ready. I’m not ready for the PWRC next year. Possibly if I’m ready in 2009, then I would go to the PWRC. It’s just a matter of two-pass recce experience.

 

What’s the best way for you to answer the question, “Why do you do that?”

 

I think that when you actually get to sit in the co-driver’s seat with one of us and get a ride in the car, that explains a lot of it to someone. Being inside the car is so much different from seeing a video or a photo of us racing.

 

But that’s only a peek into that world – to actually feel what speed is like on a gravel stage.

 

But then to sit in the driver’s seat and go full-speed down a competition stage is a whole other ball game. That’s just something I can’t get enough of. And that’s why I’m doing this.

 

Have you ever thought about competing in the Dakar event?

 

Something like Dakar is really interesting to me. The problem that I have with off-road racing – and Dakar being part of that – is the fact that there’s much more to do with the course and damage that can happen to the car than strictly driver skill. Even when I look at the Baja 1000, it looks very interesting. But there’s so much more that could happen to your vehicle, and there could be booby traps. It’s so long that mechanical failure can come so much more into play than in something like rally.

 

The reason why I like rally so much compared to some of this is it’s really driver skill. The roads are generally very nice. They’re dirt roads out in the middle of nowhere, in the forests, but … I’m not coming around the corner, and there’s a giant log in the road that can break my suspension. And if there is something like that, we’re double- and triple-cautioned, so we know to slow down and what to do with it.

 

So it’s so much more about the driver’s skill than the actual survival and/or equipment and booby traps. And what I mean by “booby traps” is something that someone can throw out there to mess you up – like sometimes locals … who don’t like the Baja 1000 will actually put stuff in the road.

 

The idea of trying to dig my buggy out of deep sand in the middle of the African desert is not appealing. I have complete appreciation for all those events in sports. For me, I only have so much time in my life, and right now I’m focusing on rally and want to become the best driver I can. If I have time to do more events, I’m actually going to go do more rally events.

 

And as I say that I’m finishing documentation to run part of the Baja 1000. My sponsor, Monster®, wants me to go do that as part of a team of their athletes. I’m not going and doing it as, “I want to go win Baja.” I’ve been asked by my biggest sponsor to go be a part of a team for a promotion.

 

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