Ken Block memorial trophy to be awarded at the International Rally of Whangārei
US businessman, action sportsman and top-level rally driver Ken Block, will have his memory honoured with a perpetual trophy to be awarded at this year’s International Rally of Whangārei, 12-14 May.
Block, who sadly lost his life earlier this year in a recreational accident, contested multiple New Zealand Rally Championship events. Of his three visits to Whangārei he won the national category title in 2015. His last appearance was in 2019.
In preparation for the 2023 event organisers then approached the Block family. Ken’s wife Lucy responded with a simple statement: “He would for sure approve.
“He LOVED NZ rally and they were by far his favourite roads. He (also) always carried a greenstone necklace at every rally since it was presented to him in New Zealand.”
The bespoke trophy is being made by Ellerslie Jewellers, and will incorporate greenstone into the design, given the value Block attached to his piece of pounamu.
Organisers have also reserved 43 on the entry list – the competition number used by Block.
Event Chairman, Steve Foster said “It’s hard to even consider a memorial trophy for someone who meant as much to us as Ken did. We always expected he would return, and we intend to keep that memory with the presentation of this trophy.
“We’re grateful to Lucy and the family for granting permission to present this trophy. It’ll be a tough moment, and I can guarantee a lot of wet eyes. Ken meant a lot to us”.
The trophy will be awarded on Sunday 14 May at the ceremonial finish of the rally (Pūtahi Park – Town Basin, Whangārei) from 3pm.
The rally covers 720km of the Northland region, using 18 special stages of closed road.
Starting with a ceremonial welcome at Whangārei’s Cameron St Mall from 5:30pm Friday the competitive section begins Saturday morning. The day concludes with a double-run of the William Fraser Memorial Park – Pohe Island stage. Sunday uses roads to the south, returning for the ceremonial finish mid-afternoon.
There are 48 teams entered, the event counting toward the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Brian Green New Zealand Rally Championship as well as others contesting the Allcomers category.