Despite originating in car parks across Japan, the ultimate Hoonigan that is Ken Block took the Gymkhana format to dizzying new heights with his series of outrageous YouTube videos.
After having to wait 16 months after his fifth instalment, Block is back with Gymkhana 6, a promising dose of car mayhem judging by the 30-second teaser.
Before reading my take on the video, watch it and see if you agree with my choice of title.
I am writing this a day after its release, and after several viewings I’ll start off by saying it was very impressive, particularly from a driver POV. However, I couldn’t help but feel it wasn’t as entertaining as 4 and 5 – was it lack of props… budget? I couldn’t quite put a finger on it. The slight nagging feeling of disappointment was echoed across the vast cyber labyrinth of Twitter with fans either loving it or hating the fact it wasn’t as cool as 5.
In episode 5 we saw Block annihilate the streets of San Francisco whilst doing donuts around dirt bikes and trams with some really great helicopter camera work. In 4 we watched as the 650-bhp Ford Focus tore up Universal Studios by smashing through walls and knocking a gorilla off a ladder.
After viewing it a few more times (with the volume off as the highly strung engine was starting to bother my better half) I suddenly realised what it was… or wasn’t. What this video boiled down to was the equivalent of an Olympic athlete taking on the Gladiators or Total Wipeout courses – in other words, organised fun. But then this video does what it says on the tin: Create The Ultimate Gymkhana Course.
Of course, the previous episodes took enormous amounts of organisation, but they also gave the impression of anarchy or doing something wrong. In 5 we saw Block racing towards San Francisco along Bay Bridge in a ‘we came, we saw, we conquered’ attitude, before drifting wildly around the city streets. In 4 there was a sense of trespass as Block kicked up a stink on Universal Studios grounds.
In Gymkhana 6 Ken and his viciously tuned Ford Fiesta ST RX43 drift in and around and even underneath a series of shipping containers. This time out his car sports a pair of blue hubs on the front wheels, which are in fact vented to act like fans in order to cool the brake discs. With a car capable of 60-mph in 1.8-secs, Block makes light work of drifting around two black pursuit Lamborghinis and a cop riding a Segway. The Fiesta also faces a spiked wrecking ball – it was this that put the image of a TV obstacle course setting into my head.
All in all I felt the driving was more precise and the drift jumps off the ramps were amazing to behold. I loved the close up of the KILL ALL TIRES decal at the beginning, something Ken so lovingly complies to. He also kills quite a few GoPro cameras too. To top off some amazing skills, the video closes out with some slo-mos accompanied by classic thrash music in the form of Slayer.
So what did you think? Great or just good?