Ken Block's Ford Escort RS Cosworth crashes and burns

It's a fantastic sight to see an Escort Cosworth thundering through a rally stage, less so when the historic car is on fire after a crash

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The Ford Escort RS Cosworth is an icon of the 1990s and was built to homologate the Group A rally car. Derived from the Sierra Cosworth, the Escort featured a 227bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and permanent all-wheel drive.

Famed motoring gymnast Ken Block has been working on an Escort Cosworth to enter into competitive rallying in America, but sadly one of its first outings turned out to be its last.

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Taking to the stages of the New England Forest Rally, Block was hanging on to third position in his Cossie despite nursing a gearbox issue. On the fourth stage Ken clipped a rock that sent the rally car into a series of barrel rolls with the car coming to rest in foliage. Both block and his long-time co-driver Alex Gelsomino escaped the wreck promptly — spurred on by flames shooting from under the bonnet. Without a means to extinguish the fire, the inferno engulfed the Escort and burned it to the ground.

Block later said, 'The box didn’t shift when I wanted it to (because of a mechanical issue), and when it finally did, it threw me into the inside of a corner and into a big rock. That rock sent us rolling over twice. We landed on our wheels, and I was ready to get going again because we were shiny side up.

'But as you can see, a fire started REALLY quick. Alex and I got out safely, but the car thoroughly burned right there on the stage.'

Ken’s modified RS was powered by a WRC spec engine, but tuned to develop 395bhp and 405lb-ft of torque. The usual five-speed manual transmission had also been replaced with a more modern seven-speed sequential box. The car was due to compete in the Idaho International Rally and star in the next Gymkhana video before the incident.

We’re glad that Ken and Alex got out of the car unharmed, but can’t help but shed a tear for the now totalled rally icon.

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