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American rally driver and YouTube sensation Ken Block has announced he will contest Rally New Zealand’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) event this September in a Ford Escort RS Cosworth. Block’s exciting news comes as Ford New Zealand confirms its backing of Rally New Zealand as an elite sponsor for the event, adding more momentum to what is shaping up to be the biggest motorsport event in New Zealand for many years. Block is the first high profile driver to confirm his intention to make the most of New Zealand’s inclusion on the 2020 WRC calendar. This will be Block’s fourth run at Rally New Zealand, having previously contested the event in 2012, 2008 and 2007. The California-based competitor has also contested six regional rallies with regular co-driver Alex Gelsomino in New Zealand since 2007, winning the International Rally of Whangarei in 2015 in his Ford Fiesta ‘HFHV (hybrid function hoon vehicle)’. Block says that New Zealand has some of the best rally roads in the world and he was super keen to include this event in his international schedule this year. Block will compete in the Ford Escort RS Cosworth which he ran at the International Rally of Whangarei last year. The livery of Block’s ‘Hoonigan’ Escort RS Cosworth was revealed today (1 March 2020, NZT) in California, along with the details of the remainder of Block’s 2020 programme which gets underway at Rally Mexico, 12-15 March. “Ford New Zealand is excited to be a part of Rally New Zealand’s World Rally Championship event this year,” says Simon Rutherford, Managing Director, Ford New Zealand. “Ford globally has a long history with rally sport and locally we’re not only excited to be supporting the event, but as huge fans ourselves, we’re looking forward to getting out there to watch. It’s such a fantastic event with our unique and challenging roads, the cars, a large and vibrant fan base and, of course, now Ken Block!” RallySport Magazine | Australia's Best Rally Magazine Michael Goldstein, CEO of Rally New Zealand 2020 Ltd, is delighted to be able to share Block’s announcement with fans and have Ford join Rally New Zealand as an elite sponsor. “We are thrilled that Ken Block will be part of Rally New Zealand this year,” says Goldstein. “Ken is a truly global motorsport star and we know rally fans will be excited to see Ken on New Zealand’s iconic rally roads.” Goldstein adds: “Having Ford New Zealand step up to support Rally New Zealand means a lot and we are grateful to be working alongside them. Ford’s links to the World Rally Championship date back to the 1970s and, for many fans, Ford is the ultimate WRC manufacturer. We are delighted to have Ford New Zealand join us as a commercial partner for Rally New Zealand this year.” “Ken Block is a legend in the motorsport world, and we are excited that he is coming our way,” says Steve Armitage, General Manager – Destination at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED). “As a round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Rally New Zealand is a top international event with a strong following around New Zealand and we hope that this event will entice many Kiwis to travel to Auckland during what is traditionally our shoulder season and enjoy everything that our region has to offer. "Ken has a huge international fan base and social media following – particularly with his viral Gymkhana video series – and his popularity will boost Auckland’s profile as a global destination.” Rally New Zealand will make further announcements in March and April. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_KBvP0_8Tc
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