One of the most exciting rally cars to compete this year has been Ken Block’s Ford Escort Cosworth.
Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino have been using the iconic Blue Oval WRC machine to compete in this year’s American Rally Association championship.
Their fight against newer machinery such as the Unlimited Class Subaru WRX STI of David Higgins has tragically been cut short with an accident and subsequent fire destroying Block’s Escort ‘Cossie’ during the weekend’s New England Forest Rally.
The crew was lucky to escape uninjured as the speed with which the fire takes hold is terrifying. Gelsomino, husband to Aussie co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino, sister of Brendan Reeves, was kind enough to share the story of the accident with MOTOR.
“We were having a solid day, running third overall even though we had a gearbox issue,” said Gelsomino. “If you watch the video, you can see the engine oddly redline right before we hit the rock.” It’s this rock on the inside of the corner that flips the Escort over.
“KB was expecting the car to run wider (the normal drift line of a 4WD rally car on a corner like that), but when the gearbox finally downshifted, it didn’t engage. We aren’t sure if it was just an engagement issue or if something broke.
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“Either way, it meant we had no drive and the car ended up on the very inside of the corner, catching the rock with the front left that threw us into a roll. Once we landed the flames started immediately. We suspect a fuel or oil line may have ruptured and with turbo temperatures in excess of 800C, whatever fluid spread under the bonnet ignited and the rest is history.
If you watch the helmet cam @GoPro video, you can see the engine oddly redline right before I hit the rock. I was expecting the racecar to run wider, but when the gearbox finally downshifted, it didn’t engage. We aren’t sure if it was just an engagement issue or if something broke. Either way, it meant I had no drive and the car ended up on the inside of the corner instead of the middle. Such a bummer. These photos suck, and it was torturous to watch the car burn (it took a while), but that’s racing. Thanks to all the volunteers, other competitors that helped, and the fire and safety crews for helping us with that crappy situation. #RIPCossie #BlockEscortCossie #FordEscortRS #NEFR
“We dumped four fire extinguishers on the fire, including a large industrial one, but the flames didn’t even budge. By the time the fire truck arrived, there wasn’t much left of it. [It’s a] very helpless feeling to see the car burning to the ground without being able to do anything to save it.”
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Sadly, virtually nothing can be salvaged from the wreck, but Ken has vowed to build another Escort Cosworth, a car he dubbed “one of my favourite race cars”.