Electric speculation sees Ford Performance and Ken Block’s Hoonigan Racing team leave WRC

This week, the Hoonigan Racing Division made a massive announcement, they’re leaving the FIA Rallycross championship. The team will not enter into the 2018 season, leaving owner Ken Block...

This week, the Hoonigan Racing Division made a massive announcement, they’re leaving the FIA Rallycross championship. The team will not enter into the 2018 season, leaving owner Ken Block and co-driver Andreas Bakkerud with a bit more time on their hands.

The difficult decision was made by Ford Performance who point to indecision about the direction of the sport in relation to powerplant. There’s been speculation about the electrification of WRC and with instant torgue, relatively short distances, the sport actually seems perfect for a transition to an all-EV powertrain. VW and Audi seem happy to entertain that path forward, while Ford are not on-board.

Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance says,

To continue in WRX would have required the development of a new race car, and with so much discussion happening around the future of rallycross from a powertrain package standpoint, it made sense for us to pause until it’s better defined.  Rest assured, we remain absolutely committed to hot hatches and all things performance and think rallycross has a bright future.

The team entered the attention-grabbing Ford Focus RS RX into the championship last year and had some decent results last year, a little less so in 2017, but overall the livery and the vehicle stance was an absolute head turner. The Focus RS RX has made its way into a number of video games like Forza Horizon 3 and most recently WRC7.

Block took to Instagram to announce it to his fans.

Well, today is a tough one for me. Ford Performance and myself have announced that we will not be continuing our World Rallycross Championship race program after the end of this current season. It’s been a tough two years of developing the Focus RS RX rallycross car, and I’ve learned a ton from that process – as well as from my teammate Andreas Bakkerud. I’ll still be racing in 2018, but I’ll be going back to doing some stage rallies, Gymkhana GRID races, plus more rad video projects with Ford as usual. As for Andreas, I wish him nothing but the best of luck next season. He’s been an exemplary teammate, and has ended up becoming a very good friend of mine as well. Someone is going to be landing themselves a very, very talented driver next season! I’d also like to say a BIG thank you to my entire Hoonigan Racing team for their relentless effort and dedication these last two years. We’ve had some great experiences, and I’m both proud and thankful for all of the hard work you’ve all put in to help this program.

A post shared by Ken Block (@kblock43) on

Bakkerud took to YouTube to make the difficult announcement.

 

Here’s the official statement from Ford Performance.

Ford Performance and Hoonigan Racing Division have made the decision to stop competing in the FIA World Rallycross Championship effective at the end of the 2017 season, it was announced today.

Block’s relationship with Ford and Ford Performance will continue as it has since 2010, with Block competing in various motorsport and Gymkhana events around the world. Block will also continue to produce his award-winning Gymkhana videos, as well as additional digital content, as he continues to act as a global ambassador for the Ford brand.

“Although we have thoroughly enjoyed competing in the exciting FIA World Rallycross Championship, it’s a natural time for us to take a break as the future of the series takes shape,” said Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance.  “To continue in WRX would have required the development of a new race car, and with so much discussion happening around the future of rallycross from a powertrain package standpoint, it made sense for us to pause until it’s better defined.  Rest assured, we remain absolutely committed to hot hatches and all things performance and think rallycross has a bright future.”

“Both myself and Ford Performance have learned a lot from this program,” said Block. “While we both would like to continue with the effort, it simply doesn’t add up at this point. Aspects of the sport are up in the air for the future, so putting a lot more money into developing a new racecar to try to battle for the championship title just doesn’t make sense right now. It’s certainly disappointing, but that’s how the economics of motorsports go sometimes.”

“As for Andreas [Bakkerud], he put in a tremendous effort to try and bring home a title with us. He’s one of the most talented drivers I’ve ever worked with and I’m honored to have been able to have him as my teammate. I’m fully confident that he’s going to be snatched up by one of the other teams in the World RX paddock as soon as the news gets out that he’s available for the 2018 season — and I’m looking forward to shipping him a bottle of champagne when he finally brings home a championship for himself.”

“Andreas is absolutely a talented driver, and a class act in the paddock,” said Pericak.  “Though we will not be supporting his program next year, we wish the best for him.  The team that picks him up will be lucky to have him.”

The news comes after nearly two seasons with Block and Bakkerud driving the Focus RS RX in the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

“Both Ford and my entire Hoonigan Racing Division team put in a tremendous effort and I want to them thank them for the hard-fought battles these last two seasons. I truly appreciate it,” said Block.

The Hoonigan Racing Division Focus RS RX racecars will be used for displays and demos, but will not be made available for sale based on pre-existing agreements with Ford Performance.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.