In this special edition of ‘Speed’ we join a man whose skills behind the steering wheel have seen him rise to international fame.
Ken Block’s particular interpretation of motor sport is a true mass phenomenon. His self-invented 'Gymkhana GRID' competition has more than 270 million hits on YouTube.
The last stage of it took place in November 2014 in Madrid and we at ‘Speed’ were there with him.
Burnt tyres, maximum speed, huge risks and very high adrenaline were in abundance before and during the race.
“When you’re racing, you need to really be on that edge of speed and nervousness, to be able to go as fast as you can”, Ken Block told euronews. “Competing at the highest level with everything – the car and yourself – all working the best you possibly can. So that is an absolutely fun time for me. If you’re not scared a little bit, well you are not going fast enough.”
Most people’s hearts would be racing in a similar situation. But this 46-year-old Californian gets behind the wheel just for fun, as he did a decade ago when he started.
“Well, for me, it has its roots in stage rally”, said Block. “I absolutely love stage rally – I’ve loved it since I was a young kid. So I started racing stage rally about ten years ago, just for fun and, basically, my goal was just to really develop my own skills and be the best driver that I could be.
“I started really quite late in life, so I just wanted to have fun and enjoy it. And that just kind of expanded out to now racing rally cross and doing gymkhana and having fun making video content.”
He may not need hours and hours of practice, but other types of training and qualities are essential for a driver like Block.
“The most important thing really is being able to have a physical and mental reaction very, very quickly”, he explained.
“You have to constantly adapt, to whatever situation is around you, or whatever the car is doing or, potentially, if you have a problem with the car – you get a puncture and you need to be able to adapt.”
Ken Block made it to the top of the podium this season, confirming that he is most definitely the King of the Gymkhana.
Euronews correspondent David Martín wanted to experience the thrill of the course first-hand.
“Ken Block has invited us along to take a ride with him. He looks ready, his car, too, I’m not so sure about myself, though! If I come out of this in one piece, I’ll let you know how it went.”
Well, he survived! Here is what he had to say about the ride:
“Incredible! One of the best experiences of my life! Maximum speed, maximum emotion…”
Don’t try this at home, folks!