When Ken Block wowed Supercars stars in their own car

04 Jan 2023
Block famously drove a Supercar in 2011
4 mins by James Pavey

The shock passing of Ken Block has seen the motorsport community share its memories of the rally star and his impact on everything four wheels.

The American's wheelhouse was in rally cars, but his influence went as far as Supercars, with Block first getting behind the wheel in 2011.

Block was Down Under on his Gymkhana World Tour when he drove a Supercar for the first time.

The track was Calder Park, and the car was a Ford Performance Racing FG Falcon.

  • Supercars community pays tribute to 'legend' Block

Under the watchful eye of Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison, Block went on to enjoy what he termed "the most interesting driving experience on a track" he'd ever had.

The Ford Supercar was nearly 300kg heavier than Block's Gymkhana Fiesta.

Critically, where Block was used to four-wheel drive, he had to quickly adapt to the rear-wheel Falcon.

With Davison by his side, Block lapped Calder in the V8-powered Falcon, but didn’t have everything his own way.

Block — used to a different way to put the power down — spun almost immediately, a moment that left him "dumbfounded".

"That was the most interesting driving experience on a track I’ve ever had," Block said afterwards.

"It goes against everything that I try and do in a car.

"Braking early, getting momentum and flowing through the corner.

"I spun at the first corner, because that’s exactly what I tried to do.

"When I got on the throttle, even the tiniest bit, the car spun.

"It was a very interesting learning experience."

On the car itself, Block said: "The set-up of the car, the gearbox, the engine, the power delivery, it’s actually quite amazing.

"It just drives unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I got a little more used to it at the end.

"But it would definitely take me a while to unlearn everything I’ve been trying to learn over the last couple of years to adapt to this."

Winterbottom and Davison were impressed, the latter explaining how even one of global motorsport’s most skilful talents was left wide-eyed by a Supercar.

"He’s not scared — he picked up the basics pretty quickly," Davison said of Block.

"It’s pretty foreign to what he’s used to, it goes against everything he’s learned.

"He had one quick spin on his out lap, which was a bit of a laugh.


"It shocked him — he couldn’t believe what happened, it’s very opposite to what he does in the car.

"You can’t get on the throttle in the corner, you have to wait a little bit with all this weight.

'It was a very interesting learning experience'

"With all the power, you’ve got to wait until the car’s straight to get on the throttle aggressively.

"That caught him out pretty quick, but he was good — he’s a guru driver, and it was a privilege to sit alongside someone like him.

"A few more runs, he’d get better and better."

Key to the day’s activities was Winterbottom and Davison driving Block’s left-hand drive Fiesta through a slalom.

There, the Supercars drivers also battled to adapt, although Block had kind words for both Aussie stars.

"He did quite good," Block said of Winterbottom.

"It’s funny when you see them drive a typical racing line… he understands car control.

"As soon as he gets it into a slide, or trying to control a car to slide the way a four-wheel car works.

The Supercars drivers then drove Block's 4WD Fiesta

"It’s counter-intuitive with what he does with a rear-wheel drive car.

"You have to unlearn some things that you know from driving other types of cars.

"He did good for being in a completely unfamiliar setting… he did well."

At the time, Winterbottom — who had started over 200 Supercar races — felt like a rookie all over again.

"The hardest thing is, when you drive our cars, you correct the steering wheel, so opposite lock and try and drive out of it," Winterbottom said.

"Where this one, you opposite lock and get on the throttle, it understeers.

"The two car race cars are completely different.

"Trying to stay on the throttle, keep the steering wheel straight and drive out of it."

The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will commence in Newcastle on March 10-12.

Tickets are on sale on Supercars.com and Ticketek.com.

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