Monday, March 7, 2011


March 7, 2011, León, Mexico – Returning to León, Mexico, now with one year of WRC racing under their belts, Monster World Rally Team driver Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino showed major improvement on stage since their debut here in 2010. But a series of electrical issues, that started even before the Monster Energy Ford Fiesta RS WRC took to the opening stage, robbed the two of a possible 6th overall finish. Still the pair pressed on through the rugged, rocky and extremely dusty terrain of the Sierra de Lobos mountains to finish 12th overall, despite two early retirements and a 20 minute delay on stage all caused by gremlins in the Fiesta’s electronics.

“It’s hard not to focus on the mechanical issues we had this event, since without them, I would have likely had the best overall finish of my WRC career,” says Block. “But regardless, from a driving perspective, I am very happy with our times here compared to last year. This is the first event we have gone into with notes already prepared, giving us an advantage we haven’t had before. And with this only being our 9th WRC event ever, I feel confident on our continued development this season, when we are already showing on pace to be 6th or 7th overall.”

With their Fiesta being unable to make it to the start of the event on Thursday evening, Block and Gelsomino were forced to retire, which led to them having to SuperRally on Friday morning, taking on a 10-minute penalty. Despite the setback though, Block managed to hit the stages and lay down consistent top-10 stage times throughout the day, until a new set of electrical problems stopped the Fiesta once again on SS8, forcing the team to SuperRally for the second consecutive day on Saturday. Once again though, Block tore out of the gates Saturday morning and continued to move up through the pack, putting down a series of 7th fastest stage times. Unfortunately, on the afternoon running of the Duarte stage, Block clipped a tree stump, snapping a control arm, forcing the car to retire early for the third consecutive day and leading to yet another SuperRally for Sunday. But Block wasn’t alone with problems in Mexico, a series of DNFs and other issues for other WRC drivers had the Monster World Rally Team still sitting 11th overall into leg 3. 

The final day’s performance from Block was a display of continued solid improvement over 2010, with two more lucky 7 stage finishes. And after an off by rally leader Sébastien Ogier, Block and Gelsomino ironically found themselves in a point earning position in 10th overall despite three consecutives early retirements. But again, the team’s luck would run out, when the electric system again acted up, delaying Block and Gelsomino for 20 minutes on the second to last stage, subsequently knocking them back a few spots. 

“WRC Mexico is one of the toughest events on the calendar, partly due to the high altitude’s effect on the engines and the rugged terrain, so despite the electrical issues that plagued the team this event, I am very happy with Ken and Alex's performance here as well as their perseverance each morning to press on after all the problems,” says team manager Derek Dauncey. “Ken was consistently only 1.1-seconds per kilometer off of the fastest Ford driver and 1.3-seconds per kilometer off the top time on each stage, which is an excellent pace for a driver who hasn’t even completed a full season of events yet.”