Block chasing ARA podium on Escort debut

Block House Racing’s Lia Block drives her father Ken's Escort Cossie for the first time in Michigan this week

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Lia Block is targeting a podium result on her four-wheel drive American Rally Association debut at this week’s Lake Superior Performance Memorial Rally.

The 17-year-old will drive her father Ken’s Ford Escort Cosworth on the Marquette-based event, having sewn up the open two-wheel drive category with two events to spare.

Ahead of the start of the ARA finale and after a 20-mile test in the Escort earlier in the week, Block told DirtFish: “I’m very hyped about this! I did some donuts in this car for about five minutes, but that was on Tarmac. The test was my first time in the car on gravel and I’m really happy just to get in the car and compete in four-wheel drive.

“The plan is to feel it out, to have fun. With the championship already tied up, we have nothing to gain and nothing to lose. We’re going to take it easy and enjoy these fast stages.”

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Asked what her aim was at the finish, she said: “I’m looking at an all-wheel drive podium. That’s how I always go in the rally: I look at the times and I’m here to have fun and push to the best of my ability. The car’s got a lot of power, which isn’t so hard to get used to – it’s just the speed out of the corner and how fast this thing sends you down the straights.

“I’ve changed my notes a little bit to take some of the detail out – there’s a lot going on in the notes and at the speed we’re going to be going, it’s a lot to take in. And we are going to be going a lot faster in this car!”

Block House Racing team manager Derek Dauncey was impressed with what he’d seen from Block at the test.

“We put her on a tricky, slippery road,” he said, “but she got in the car and understood it and coped well with it. The target is to finish and see how far up the leaderboard she can get.“

One person who knows all about four-wheel drive on ARA rounds is two-time champion Brandon Semenuk. Subaru’s Canadian star admitted he was excited to see Block’s four-wheel drive debut.

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“It’s exciting for Lia,” he said. “She’s got a great car beneath her – the history of that car is really cool. For her this is about experience. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of expectation, she just needs to get comfortable and find pace through the rally through her own times and enjoy it.

“It’s going to be fun to watch her go in that thing.”

Block does, of course, have experience of competing in four-wheel drive following her Extreme E outing, but LSPR is her first rally in a 4WD car.