Like swallows returning to Capistrano, Ken Block is back in a Subaru. Ford’s marketing budget must be breathing a sigh of relief because he will be running six rounds of the ARA championship here in the States in a Vermont Sports Car-prepped WRX STI.
The reason it’s nice seeing Ken back in a flat-four Scoob is perhaps most clear about five minutes into his announcement video on the platform that made him famous. The platform that he made famous? On YouTube. It’s there in the back. Do you see it?
It’s a little first-gen Impreza, covered in mud, with a roof rack and a few extra rally lights. It probably cost the owner a couple hundred bucks, and it has that same little spark of magic in it that’s in Ken Block’s six-figure racecar. With some time, money and expertise, that ratty old car in the back could be made to go, well, not as fast as the pro car, but a WRX engine swap, new suspension, wheels and tires would get it a lot of the way there.
This is to say that Subarus exist with a real link from the basic stuff you can get on a showroom floor or from Craigslist to the real-deal, built-in-a-professional-shop rally metal. Subaru even has a contingency program that pays out to people running their cars in rallies here. That’s not something that happens with Fords, no matter how good Fiestas are.
(This is not to knock Fiestas, which make incredible rally cars! You just can’t buy an AWD Fiesta in the States. You can still drop a cage into a FWD one and rip up any stage you like, but you’ll never quite have the same feeling like you’re in Gymkhana Five.)
Here’s Ken’s schedule for the year, if you’re vaccinated and you want to get sprayed with rocks by this thing in person. Watching it run against a near-as-makes-no-difference WRC Ford will be interesting.