Ken Block's Gymkhana: your complete guide | Top Gear
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Ken Block

Ken Block's Gymkhana: your complete guide

As Mr Block returns in Gymkhana Ten, here are his finest small screen moments

Ken Block Gymkhana Hoonigan Mustang London
  • It was way back in 2008 that the Internet first got wind of a driver named Ken Block and his rather natty skills at being an absolute and utter motoring hooligan. Give this man an airfield, and he'd leave you with the smoking carcasses of many, many tyres.

    Because it was in 2008 that the bedrooms and offices of the world watched this Californian madman in ‘Gymkhana Practice', the first in a series of videos that would establish Block and his rally-spec motors as icons of tyre-shredding excess.

    We're now up to number ten: he's returned to your (small) screens in the latest instalment of his Gymkhana series (um, Gymkhana Ten), deploying no less than five tuned motors across five countries. Shout out to the Escort Cossie, just because.

    Need a reminder of Ken's skills? Here is TopGear.com's complete guide to his fine Gymkhana series.

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  • Gymkhana Practice

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    2008, and the one that started it all. Block takes his ‘06 Subaru Impreza WRX STI (yeah, remember those?) with its 530bhp to an airfield, guns it down the straight and then, without warning, flicks it into a massive drift. And it was that first drift that changed everything. And it seems so innocent when you look back, as many of you still are: it's clocked over 14 million views.

  • Gymkhana Two "The Infomercial"

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    Shamelessly paraded as an advert showcasing DC Sports merchandise (that’s Block’s clothing line) and filmed at the Port of Los Angeles, Gymkhana Two debuted a year after the first one, and was altogether a more polished affair. It also ushered in a new iteration of the Scooby: this was a 2009 WRX STI packing 566bhp and 611lb ft of torque, prepared by the same chaps who did the first one (Crawford Performance). It ends in an explosion, with lots of fire and lots of drifting.

    Over 42 million views and counting.

    There’s a mini-Gymkhana vid that aired a few months later too - Gymkhana 2.1 - featuring Block and longtime friend Rob Dyrdek; Block’s in the Scooby, Dyrdek’s in a mini-Scooby. There is Benny Hill music and 80s synth, along with a touch of tyre smoke. Just a smidgen, mind.

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  • Gymkhana Three

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    By this point, Ken Block had already become a household name.

    We're in 2010, and Block has swapped his Scooby for something a little smaller, but equally averse to prolonging tyre life: a '11 Ford Fiesta prepared by Olsbergs MSE. Don't let the size fool you mind; it's still packing 650bhp and 660lb ft of torque at the wheels, and is capable of accelerating from 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds. Eat that, Veyron.

    He heads outside the US for the first time in a Gymkhana film, at the 51 degree banked oval of Linas at l'Autodrom de Linas-Montlhery, specifically chosen by Ken to challenge himself on the rather steep sides. Welcome to Ken's ‘Ultimate Playground'. Naturally, a man in a segway appears, and at the end, there is literally NO RUBBER LEFT. It's just sparks.

  • Gymkhana Four

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    We're back in California for this one, and for the yearly installment of his tyre-torture-series, Block steps it up to another level of cool. Shot on the backlots of Universal Studios, the director of Zombieland produces a proper Hollywood stunt film.

    There are JawsBack to the Future, Stars Wars and Top Gun references, all playing second fiddle to Block's new Hybrid Function Hoon Vehicle (HFHV). Film and car nerds, this one's for you.

    Oh, and a man dressed in an ape suit riding a segway makes the obligatory appearance.

  • Gymkhana Five

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    San Francisco has been the backdrop to many a good movie, most notably the superb, superb chase sequence in Bullitt. Block decides he wanted to "have his way with San Francisco", and boy, does he have a good ol' day.

    Shot on the actual streets of San Fran, the fifth installment of Block's Gymkhana series landed in 2012, and remains his most accomplished, spectacular and personal favourite to date. In his 650bhp Fiesta, he smokes his way around Northern California in a way only he knows how.

    This one's epic, and you lot are quite taken with it too: over 54 million views. Fifty-four million.

  • Gymkhana Six

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    Any car that has a ‘kill all tires' sticker deserves to be laughed at, right? Well, laugh, and you'll get a mouthful of the black stuff, because Block means business. So much so, he needed a different tack after the Hollywood-special Gymkhana Four, and the spectacularly epic San-Francisco-based Gymkhana Five.

    He went back-to-basics for this year's video, setting out a little technical circuit - with the obligatory moving cars and segways - to showcase his impressive drifting ability. It's a throwback to the very first Gymkhana that got the world to sit up and pay attention; where it's just him, a 650bhp Fiesta ST and a few obstacles. Oh, and a big fat wrecking ball.

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  • Gymkhana Seven

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    Out goes Block's trusty little Fiesta, and in comes something altogether more unholy. A modified, 845bhp classic Ford Mustang with all-wheel-drive and a madman at the wheel, thrashing away at downtown Los Angeles' gritty cityscape.

    It's an incredible video, as expected, with some clever touches; donuting around Randy's Donuts, snaking his way up into the Hollywood hills and behind the sign - the first car to have ever been filmed doing so - and a donut around a lowrider's bouncy lowrider.

  • Gymkhana Eight

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    The feisty Fiesta returns for numero ocho of the Gymkhana series. But this time the 650bhp, AWD Fiesta RX3 is in a spangly reflective livery... which suits the location. For the ‘Ultimate Exotic Playground’, Ken heads to Dubai, plays with the famous fleet of super-police cars, donuts around a moving Ford Raptor that’s riding on two wheels, and has a drag race against a Veyron, Ferrari F12, Lexus LFA and Lamborghini Aventador. 

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  • Gymkhana Nine

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    For his latest edition, Ken goes back to his roots by scrapping all the story telling flim-flam and keeping it simple with slightly scary, stupidly sideways and barely-believable driving around an abandoned industrial estate.

    His weapon of choice this year? Not his 845bhp, four-wheel-drive, 1965 ‘Hoonicorn’ Mustang, or faithful 650bhp Fiesta. This time, Ken opts for his newly rallycross-ed 600bhp, 660lb-ft Focus RS. The very same one he kicks up dirt in the World Rallycross Championship. 

    But, which Gymkhana is your favourite? Let us know below. 

  • Ken Block, Matt LeBlanc and the Hoonicorn

    1854

    Perhaps one of Ken's finest films to date: an exclusive, very special director's cut of the time he took Matt LeBlanc on a very, very hot ride around London. In his monstrous, ludicrously powered Hoonicorn Mustang.

    So it's not an entry into the Gymkhana canon proper, but we're sure you'll agree it's a good 'un. You'll want to turn this one up very, very loud. Enjoy.

  • Gymkhana Ten

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    "Please Hoon Responsibly” begs the disclaimer at the top of Gymkhana Ten. Right before Ken Block’s latest tyre-wrecking, laptop speaker-slaying, extravaganza spends almost nineteen minutes assaulting your senses. And not just on one airfield, or in one city, this time. Oh no. Gymkhana has gone global.

    For its tenth outing, the YouTube car ballet phenomenon covers five locations, from snowy Sweden via Mexico to downtown LA, there’s five times the rev limiter action, five times the drifts, the jumps, and yes, the jump-drifts.

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