GALLERY> Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational Ford Fiesta Rally WRC MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway

Here are some more much overdue photos from Ken Block’s Gymkhana Grid Invitational. At first, “gymkhana” may sound like a martial arts discipline (to those unfamiliar with the automotive version) but it’s actually a starting line and a finish line joined together by all sorts of interesting obstacles such as cones, tires, and barrels which, when arranged just so, require a driver to perform all sorts of interesting maneuvers such as reversals, 180 and 360 degree spins, and figure 8s – all while racing against the clock. The reason I stressed that this is the automotive version is because, you may be interested to know, there is an equestrian version as well. As you can imagine, there’s a lot less smoke – unless they figured out how to get a horse to do a burnout when I wasn’t looking.

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway

Here is an example of a portion of the course that was designed to fully test the drivers’ skill. The goal of gymkhana is to get through the course as fast as possible with the fewest number of mistakes. This course was a true test for the skills of any driver with a firm grasp of the fundamentals of car control at top speed.

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway

Hitting a cone or barrel resulted in a time penalty. Failure to navigate the course correctly resulted in no score. The event was divided into rear-wheel drive (RWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) competition classes and various high-powered monsters (like Ken Block’s 650 HP BEAST FORD FIESTA!) were piloted by some of the biggest names in Formula D, Time Attack, and Rally. All for bragging rights and beers. The ultimate recipe for fun!

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway

The portion of the event that nearly stole the entire show was the burnout contest. The crowd went crazy as these high-powered machines vaporized their tires – while SCCA officials the world over woke up in cold sweats!

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway Kevin Abbrings BioMCN 350Z

Here you see Kevin Abbrings in the BioMCN Nissan 350Z doing burnouts around his crew while they acted as cheerleaders.  Sure, there’s an element of danger – but it’s mixed with four elements of fun!

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway Abbrings Kevin 350Z

You can barely make out the crew as Abbrings continued to liquidate his tires! Despite the cheerleading by Abbring’s crew, Mike Essa in his GSR Autoworks E92 BMW 3-series took the win at the Discount Tire burn-out contest. If you can imagine, Mike’s burnout actually beat this one!

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway Ford Escort RS Mark II Vaughn Gittin Jr

One car that garnered a great deal of attention was Ken Block’s other car: a 1978 Ford Escort RS Mark II. Vaughn Gittin Jr drove the converted left-hand drive Ford Escort since his Ford Mustang had mechanical issues.

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway Vaughn Gittin Jr

In the spirit of the car loan, Ken Block and Vaughn Gittin, Jr. have a good laugh before the competition. It’s cool to know that the drivers are fierce competitors on the course but friendly when it counts.

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway Tony Brakiohiapa

The 2010 Formula DRIFT champion was ousted during elimination by another Mustang driven by Tony Brakohiapa. Brakohiapa (BELOW) was eventually eliminated by Daijiro Yoshihara.

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway Brakohiapa Tony Ford Mustang

Tony Brakohiapa has been a Formula D mainstay and a perennial top competitor – with no big budget or super sponsors but he was still super successful this year! He did well at this event as well, taking out Vaughn Gittin Jr to make it to the Top 8, while piloting his 650 HP Ford Mustang which was one of the heavier cars in the competition. And we’re still loving the Tuskegee Airmen Mustang Redtails livery! Hope to see it again next year!

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway Calvin Want

Calvin Wan in his white Mazda RX-7 FD (looking doper then ever!) was ousted by Kevin Abbrings during the RWD Final 8 competition. Not bad, considering Calvin has been on a motorsports sabbatical for the last year locking down his “Father of the Year” award. Baby Chloe must be proud! We missed your FD at the track, Calvin!

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway Daijiro Yoshihara Kevin Abbrings

In the RWD Semi-Finals, Daijiro Yohsihara went against Abbrings. Although Abbrings was a terror in the burnout competition, it just wasn’t in the cards for him to beat Dai.

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway Daijiro Yoshihara

Here’s Dai in the Discount Tire Nissan S13 – suspension by Mike Kojima. That should mean something to you. Very skilled driver + “The Suspension Whisperer” = very hard to beat combination. Thus, the battle against Abbrings  moved Dai into the final round. All that remained was to determine who he would be facing -  Matt Powers or John Russakoff.

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway John Russakoff Daijiro Yoshihara

In the first battle against Matt Powers, Russakoff got a penalty and still, somehow, managed to win it.  He lost the  second battle and managed to take the overall win against Matt  by winning two of three – moving him to the finals against Dai. Not an easy assignment.

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway Daijiro Yoshihara

Here’s a shot of Dai maneuvering tightly around one of many obstacles – mere inches away. It pretty much looked like this for him all day long. So, even if you had been reading this only seconds after the event instead of a week, it would probably have come as no surprise to you that…

Daijiro Yoshihara Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway

Dai blazed around the track winning the final in two battles against Russakoff to take the overall competition for the RWD class.

In the AWD Semi-Finals, Formula DRIFT 2010 Triple Crown winner Tanner Foust went against Stephan Verdier while Ken Block went against Andrew Comrie Picard.

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway Stephan Verdier Tanner Foust

Foust easily took the first two battles against Verdier, moving him into the Finals.

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway

Block, on the other hand, easily maneuvered throughout the course, with no penalties, around Comrie Picard and into the Finals where Foust was waiting.

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway

In a historic battle between legends, both cars ran head-to-head to the finish. In the first round, Foust blazed the course in a lightning fast 49.581 seconds; however, Foust received a penalty in the slalom.

Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational MotorMavens Mass Appeal Oliver Petalver Irwindale Speedway Tanner Foust

Despite a penalty, Foust took the win and went on to oust Block and take the overall win, adding The Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational  to his long list of accomplishments.

Ken Block’s Gymkhana Grid was an absolute blast to photograph. Since we were understaffed, I was unable to take a closer look at our own Mass Appeal event as I had wanted. Keep an eye out for video coverage of both events by Justin Shreeve and Joe Ayala!

:: Oliver Petalver

MotorMavens Readers' Blog

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7 Responses to “GALLERY> Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chris Rhoad, NissanPacific. NissanPacific said: GALLERY> Ken Block Gymkhana Grid Invitational http://bit.ly/fKtqrr [...]

  2. Really great to see the Mk2 Escort – a really iconic rally car. Very odd to see it in America too lol

  3. @Patrick McCullagh: Yes, Escort Mk2s are awesome! However, the best ones I’ve ever seen were in the UK and in Greece, with period correct graphics and style!

    I think I need to dig up those photos and post them on the site! Theyre about 2 or 3 years old now, and never before seen!

  4. @ Antonio – my father use to compete in Ireland and the UK in a MkII Escort as a co-driver. They owned what they call a “Monte” Escort – it had huge rear arches on it to accomdate a wider track.

    They are so much fun to watch.

  5. There’s a well known street drifter who only rocks MK2/MK1 Ford Escorts in the UK. I recently had the experience of having a passenger ride with him at a spot. Awesome little cars!

  6. @Patrick: We need to talk finally! Hey what is a “Monte” Escort? Never heard that term! Only heard of Brenda and Mexico…

    @Bridle: SHOOT THAT ESCORT PLEASE!

    @Oliver Petalver: WELCOME to the crew, Oliver! I love the first photo!

  7. Antonio

    Yeah for sure dude hit me up anytime at all. Brenda?? i never heard of that either. We are both going to have to teach each other i think.

    The “monte” escort wasnt the official name. This particular car was introduced at the Monte Carlo Rally one year hence the name became attached to it. Often people will refer to them by license plate “GVX 489T” is one of the famous ones.

    http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/2599/numriser00281sa.jpg

    The above image is of my dad sitting in the co-drivers spot at a rally in Belgium 30 odd years ago

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