After two days and 199 stage miles of Rally Deutschland, Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino were poised to score their first World Rally Championship points.
The Monster World Rally Team drivers had secured a 1 minute 32 second gap between themselves and tenth place, making a ninth overall finish appear only a few stages away when an alternator issue forced Block and Gelsomino to retire on the first transit of leg three.
“It kills me that we had two great days in the Focus, with zero offs and were sitting ninth overall and had to retire on a transit of all things,” said Block. “But it was really important for us to log these tarmac miles for development purposes, and while I would of obviously preferred to have finished in points, these two days here in Germany have me going into France that much more confident and prepared.”
Rally Deutschland began for Block and Gelsomino early last Monday in Brauneberg, Germany where they tested the Monster Energy Ford Focus RS WRC in tarmac trim for the first time ever. With only two sealed-surface rallies notched into their belts, and none on the WRC level, a big part of the team’s development this year is to concentrate on getting up to speed on tarmac. “It’s quite different than racing on gravel,” said Block. “There is just no room for error, making even minor mistakes is punishable by DNF.”
By the end of day one, it was clear that Block and Gelsomino had found their groove on the tight and unforgiving roads of WRC Germany. Swift and steady stage times landed the lone American team on the leader board overnight, sitting in tenth place overall.
“Ken’s performance on tarmac this weekend once again proves his ability to adapt to the WRC as a driver,” said M-Sport’s Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson. “He was quick and consistent with a clear plan and strategy to build speed and experience over the next three events. As a team, we all shared his disappointment that a rare technical failure robbed him of a chance to get the results he deserved. With this being his first tarmac event, we look forward to seeing his progression through the rest of the year on sealed surfaces.”
Block and Gelsomino served up a repeat performance on day two, spicing it up with a bit more speed and swagger, something Block made well aware to the massive crowds lining the infamous 48km-long Panzerplatte stage—the longest stage on the 2010 WRC calendar. “The highlight of the weekend for me was on our second running of Panzerplatte,” said Block. “I had not only gained the confidence to start tossing the Focus around, but I had also put enough of a cushion between myself and Van Eldik in tenth, that I decided to drift every turn through the spectator areas,” says Block. “Rally Germany is just such an amazing event, I felt like I owed that to the tens of thousands of fans who came out. Plus, I can’t lie…it was super fun!”
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