Monster World Rally Team driver Ken Block has been boosted by a short test prior to the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, during which former Ford factory driver Markko Martin sat in with him to give him a few hints and tips.

Block completed 70 kilometres at the wheel of the Ford Focus RS WRC on Monday, using gravel roads that were representative of those he will face over the weekend. It was the first time that the American had driven the Focus since the Rally of Turkey more than one month ago.

Block concentrated on suspension set-up work and also his driving style with the help of Martin. The Estonian, who drove for Ford from 2002 to 2004, has tested for the team on a regular basis but was sitting in with Block for the first time.

Monster World Rally Team manager Derek Dauncey said: “One of our biggest challenges this year has been getting Ken and Alex sufficient seat time in the Ford Focus, which made yesterday’s test crucial for us. It was the first time that Ken has actually been able to give input during a test on suspension changes and mapping options. The result is a car more fine-tuned for Ken’s driving style. In addition to making changes to the vehicle, we also brought ex-Ford WRC driver Markko Martin in to sit with Ken to provide advice on driving technique. Overall it was a very productive test and we look forward to seeing it pay off this weekend at Rally Portugal.”

Block has shown promising speed on both the World Rally Championship events he has contested so far, in Mexico and in Turkey, running in the top 10 on his debut. However, he has admitted that lack of testing has so far proved to be his biggest barrier to making progress.

“That’s been the biggest problem,” he said after Turkey. “Hopefully, with more time in the car, things will get a little easier for us.”


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