Getting up close with Ken Block and his Ford Escort Cosworth V2
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When most people reach a stage of their life when they want a change of scenery, they usually find another job to do, or take up a different hobby, but not Ken Block. Ken released that racing iconic rally stages around the world was the path he wanted to follow — so he made it happen.
Alongside an incredibly knowledgable team of mechanics, Ken is embarking on the 'Cossie World Tour' in which he is driving seven of the best stages around the world.
One of these stages that Ken is participating in is the Rally of Whangarei this weekend. Block has made the trip down to our part of the world with his car and team in tow as the Whangarei stages are some of his favourite in the world. This big praise from the 'King of Hoons' doesn't come lightly as he has driven at a fair few locations in his time behind the wheel.
In true Hoonigan style, he has opted to do this tour in one of the most iconic rally cars of all time — the Ford Escort Cosworth. You'll notice that the Cossie V2 isn't just any Cosworth either, and considering it's his second attempt at the car, you know that he's got everything right.
Ken's first Cossie met a fiery end when it rolled on a rally stage just last year. After transmission issues struck coming into a corner, the Escort was catapulted across the road and into a ditch where it sat for a few seconds before catching fire. "Those cars are known to have a bit of a problem with fires in rolls, I think that there's a fuel rail on top that can break and then spill gas all over a hot engine," he explains.
When it came to rebuilding the Cossie for version two, Ken wanted to make it bigger and better, and he's certainly managed to do both. "The whole idea that I went with is, if the Ford Escort RS Cossie came out today, what would the current world rally team do with that car, with an aero package."
Addressing the main issue of reliability, the team rebuilt a car that shouldn't spontaneously combust on a stage, and stay in tip-top shape for the whole world tour. The result is a fire-breathing turbocharged four-cylinder powered Cosworth that looks, and sounds the part. Unfortunately the Cossie was suffering engine issues on the day we visited, so didn't get to see the machine in action.
The extremely angry four-banger that sits underneath the hood produces 276kW and powers all four wheels through a six-speed sequential transmission. Understandably, the transmission has been changed from the seven-speed unit that used to be in the Cossie as Ken has put it at fault for the infamous rollover.
To obey local noise regulations, there are two exhaust options that the team can utilise. They can either send it out the twin pipes at the back, or use the side exit exhaust.
A Group A-styled livery covers the exterior of the Cossie and is definitely one of the coolest aspects. The widened guards extend the vehcile's track out 110mm, and add to the Cosworth's iconic aggressive stance. We didn't get to see the full livery during our visit as it was covered in plastic to keep our harsh gravel roads from tearing it to pieces.
While the car is a new build, Ken managed to bring a little bit of the V1 into V2 in the form of the roll cage paint. His team ground up a few engine components from the charred wreck of V1, mixed them into the paint, and sprayed the resulting mixture onto the cage.
Ken will be competing alongside Hayden Paddon this weekend who is racing in the 2019 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
For more information on the rally this weekend, head over to the website here.