To be fast in World Rally Championship competition means being able to pilot a car at insane speeds over ever-changing road conditions. Tarmac gives predictable grip, as does dirt (when it’s firmly compacted, at least).
Gravel, on the other hand, isn’t predictable at all, which makes driving on it at speed all the more puckering. Watch the helmet-cam footage in the video below, and you’ll see what we mean.
Even in a straight line, Block is making constant corrections to counter oversteer and understeer from his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, often at heart-stopping velocities just feet away from dense pine forests. There are no gravel traps to slow you down in WRC racing, so any kind of mistake is likely to have rather unpleasant consequences--consequences with which Block is all too familiar.
Some would say that F1 drivers are the best in the world, since they race at the highest speeds for (arguably) the highest salaries. We’re inclined to disagree, since WRC drivers at the top of their game, like Sebastian Loeb or Mikko Hirvonen, are possessed with supernatural car control skills.
Will Ken Block get to that level? We suppose it depends upon how badly he wants it, and what he’s willing to sacrifice to get there.
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