Ken Block is making his ninth World Rally Championship start in Mexico, which marks the first time that he has returned to a round that he has already experienced. But repeated electrical problems have so far stymied his attempts to show what he can do. Block talks about his tough start.
Q. What exactly happened going into Cubilete last night?
Ken Block: About 300 meters into the stage, it started to cut out in the same way it had the night before. We tried to reset it and all of a sudden we started to smell an electrical fire kind of smell, so we shut it down and coasted along to a safe place to switch it off.
We let it sit for a couple of minutes and then tried to fire it up again, which was when smoke started pouring out of the center console. I said: 'OK! That's it, game over! It's time to get out, I'm going to call M-Sport.'
Q. How do you feel?
KB: It's just really disappointing, I absolutely love this rally and, for me, these are some of the best roads in the world – they're so much fun to drive. And the fact they've put in more jumps to make the stages even better makes it even tougher.
Q. This doesn't seem to have been your event...
KB: You're right there, retiring twice in 24 hours is tough. The consolation is that, despite the problems, we have still been able to drive all of the stages. I would have liked to have improved a little bit more in the afternoon; some of the guys are making a second per kilometer jump and I was only half a second [per kilometer] quicker.
I'm still trying to figure out how hard I can push this car. I'm coming in with less tire wear, so either I don't have the right setup or I'm not pushing enough. I feel like I'm driving the car to the most of the capabilities of the tire through most of the corners. Something's a bit off and I've got to figure it out.
Q. Is it more time in the car that you need?
KB: Yeah, yeah, it is a totally new car for me. Some of these guys like [Federico] Villagra have an S2000 Fiesta in their home championship, but for me, it's just going to take a little bit more time to figure it out.
Q. This is a big event for you as well – and for Monster...
KB: Yeah, that's what's really disappointing for me, too – I'm on my home continent and I was hoping for a good result. My driving's matured, my notes have matured; I felt I didn't push too hard yesterday and the times were decent. OK, there's still a long way to go to reach the top guys, but I'm taking the right steps, and that's why it's so tough to have two mechanical DNFs in the same day.
The s****y thing is, I realize this is a new car and you know there are going to be problems, but I just didn't really expect it to be me! I feel bad for M-Sport, they do all the testing and everything they can do, but there are going to be problems in the real world.
Q. And the rest of the event?
KB: We're going to keep learning the car, so we can be quicker on the events in the future.