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Ken Block: Car culture’s Mr Excitement

The part-time rally driver and full-time disruptor of car culture speaks with TopGear.com about the latest in his series of Gymkhana stunt videos.

TopGear.com: Hi Ken! How are you?

Ken Block: Good thanks.

TG: Well done on another demonstration of ‘How To Kill Tires' in your new video, Gymkhana 6.

KB: [Laughs] Thank you. It was to try something totally different to Gymkhana 5; go back to the roots, like the first video. For me, Gymkhana's a simple grass roots sport, and I wanted to do something more developed as far as an actual course goes, to make it look more dynamic. You know nowadays, F1's been around so long, you have these beautiful amazing circuits, and I hope someday to have a circuit built for Gymkhana. This film was part of the idea of making something that looked like a real race course as opposed to just some cones and an empty field.

TG: It feels more stripped back than the glossier tire-melting you did in Gymkhana 5?

KB: Yeah, well, that's the thing. One of my problems is that Gymkhana 5 is so good that I kind of screwed myself [laughs]. Like, how do I outdo having my way with San Francisco, doing stuff on the Bay Bridge, doing a credits piece out on a barge in the middle of the bay? I don't know where I can go from there. So for this new one I just wanted to go in a completely different direction, make sure people understand it's not just all about racing through cities. Gymkhana's about precision driving and doing stuff with the cars you don't normally see.

TG: Gymkhana's also about, erm, destroying as much rubber as possible. How many sets of tires did you go through during filming?

KB: Actually not that many, a lot of the shoot was done very quickly, with only a couple of tries. With San Francisco for example, we shot over four days, but this was a very quick shoot of two days. I'd say about four sets of tires.

TG: That's pretty conservative. What's your annual tire bill?

KB: [Laughs] I don't know, I have this great sponsor called, erm, PIRELLI, who takes very good care of me.

TG: Admit it: you wanted to crash into those Lamborghinis during filming, didn't you?

KB: I did not want to crash into those cars. I did not want to pay for those cars. I mean, they were really a preference from the Need for Speed guys who came on as the title sponsor for this one, and they wanted to incorporate some of the cars that were in their game, and specifically they asked for Lamborghinis. We happily obliged. We didn't have any incidents, thank you.

TG: Do you get bored of being bloody excellent at drifting?

KB: I never get bored [laughs]. I'm always trying to improve car setups and what I'm doing with the car, so it's genuinely a lot of fun. When it isn't fun anymore I'm going to quit.

TG: Which is your favourite Gymkhana film and why? And you're allowed to say the one you did with James May.

KB: That's great, what with him being one of my best mates [laughs. A lot]. By the way that was a funny Facebook post. Sure, the James May film was definitely one of my favourites, but honestly, Gymkhana 5 in San Francisco will be hard to top. Like, ever. It was such an amazing city to drive in, and the fact that they let me do all that stuff too, just amazing. It's going to be a hard one to beat, so it'll be my favourite for a long time.

TG: You're also known to melt tires in Global Rallycross too - how did last week's finale in Las Vegas go?

KB: It was a very difficult event in Vegas last week, the track was quite short so the lap times for qualifying were really close, and it ended up being a very tight race in the end, but it was a lot of fun. I've been a top qualifier the entire year and I have the highest average qualifying position, but I just didn't have a win, so to get that win in Vegas last week and finish third overall in the championship was nice, considering all the bad luck I've had all year.

TG: So what melty goodness have you got planned for next year?

KB: I'm looking forward to doing the same thing I did this year: the X Games, Global Rallycross, Rally America, whatever Gymkhana Grid events we can fit in and a couple of WRC events if I can fit them in. I'm lucky to have a dynamic schedule with my Fiesta.

TG: We understand there could be a spot left in F1 for next year if you've got a bit of spare time...

KB: No, but thank you. Not interested. At all. That's just not my type of driving.

TG: What's happening with Gymkhana 7?

KB: I've actually been working on Gymkhana 7 for around six months already. It's quite... different, and that's about all I can tell you. Like I said, Gymkhana 5 was so good I've had to go in different directions, that's why 6 is what it is, and 7's sort of bigger and more different, but even more dramatic. I think it's going to be a unique one that people will really love. But they take a long time to do if you're going to do something different and unique. It takes a lot of planning and time.

TG: When will Gymkhana 7 come out?

KB: Early next summer. We'll shoot it in April or May, and it'll be out around June or July...

TG: Can't wait. Cheers Ken!

This story originally appeared on TopGear.com.