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Ford Focus RS to enter World Rallycross Championship, with Ken Block at the wheel

The original Ford Focus RS was inspired by rally cars, so it’s very fitting that the latest Focus RS will get its tires dirty in rally competition. Ford says the white-hot hatchback will compete in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, in the hands of Ken Block.

Teased at the end of Block’s Gymkhana 8 video, the Focus RS rallycross car will be fielded by the YouTube star’s Hooligan Racing team for the full 2016 season. Block will drive one car, and the team will also campaign a second car driven by Andreas Bakkerud. Block started out as a Subaru man, but has used Fords for the past few years. His typical mount is some form of Fiesta rally car, and he also drove an 850-horsepower, all-wheel-drive 1965 Mustang in one of the Gymkhana videos.

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Unlike traditional rallying, in which drivers compete to set the fastest time over stages usually laid out on public roads, Rallycross events are run on self-contained circuits, usually small enough to fit inside a stadium. The tracks generally combine dirt and tarmac, with some jumps thrown in for good measure. The spectacle and fast pace of this form of racing has made it popular among promoters trying to reach the Internet generations. There are actually two major Rallycross series at the moment: the FIA World Rallycross Championship, and Red Bull Global Rallycross.

Like other Rallycross cars, the Focus RS will bear at least some resemblance to the showroom model. One look at the modified bodywork, though, and it’s clear this isn’t an ordinary Focus RS. The rallycross car produces 600 horsepower, which is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox. Ford says it will do 0 to 60 mph in 2.0 seconds, and the suspension and brakes were upgraded for motorsports duty.

The Focus RS will get its first taste of competition at the FIA World Rallycross Championship event in Portugal on April 15. The 2016 season includes 12 races in 11 countries on three continents.