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Projekt E: Ken Block leads first day of running

Ken Block won the first ever race and heads qualifying on day 1. Neubauer won on the road both times but was penalized after race 1 contact.

Hermann Neubauer led the way in free practice just eclipsing Ken Block in his Hoonigan Racing Ford. The random draw saw the Austrian on the inside, Natalie Barratt in the middle and Block on the outside with plenty of space on the left hand side of the track.



Off the line Barratt bogged down which allowed Block and Neubauer to race ahead. Coming to turn one with Block on the outside of the Austrian Neubauer, the pair made contact which spun the Hoonigan racer into the gravel. Block tried to recover after going backwards through turn 1 which resulted in 2 trips through the gravel before making it back to the circuit. Barratt avoided the mess and took to the joker lap immediately but spun across the track on the exit of the alternate route. She rejoined just as Block came past with the pair avoiding contact and the Brit dropping to last.

Neubauer then controlled the race from the front with a 13 second lead over Block after lap 1. The leading pair took to the joker lap on the final tour and held their position despite Block trying to close, even setting the fastest lap in the process. This gave Neubauer the first ever victory in the series and 50 qualifying points for doing so.


I had quite a good start and also Ken had a good start. I think he closed the door quite hard and it was impossible for me to brake so early. We had some small contact and he spin. Bad luck for Ken so sorry for him.

– Hermann Neubauer

However, the stewards decided that Neubauer had moved in the braking zone of turn 1 and gave him a 30 second penalty. This gave Block the victory and promoted Barratt into second place with the on-the-road victor dropping to last place.



All 3 cars got away cleanly with Neubauer able to cut across the pack to take the lead at turn 1. Barratt again went to the joker lap straight away which left Block right up behind the Austrian. Coming over the fast crest on the back straight both the leaders got sideways with Block making contact with the inside barrier. This fired him backwards across the inside of turn 8 and after a full spin Block continued losing only 4 seconds. The top 2 extended their gap over Barratt with Neubauer setting the fastest lap. Block took the joker lap on the penultimate lap with the Austrian following on the final lap. By this point he had extended his lead to just under 6 seconds and took a commanding victory.

Block heads the standings on 95 points out of a possible 100 with Neubauer close behind on 92. Barratt props up the standings on 87. Racing continues tomorrow with Q3 and Q4 followed by the first ever final.


Featured Image Credit: World Rallycross Championship

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