Ken Block: Electrikhana is a Dream Come True

Ken Block

Taking Audi’s iconic rally cars into the future was a labor of love for the Gymkhana superstar, and enthusiasts got the goods.

When Ken Block first teamed up with Audi to help develop electric vehicles, he revealed that watching Group B — and the company’s legendary S1 E2 — was what inspired him to become a rally driver. So working with the wizards of the Four Rings on the Audi S1 HOONITRON, then using it to tear up the streets of Sin City for the ELECTRIKHANA video was a dream come true. Even by Block’s lofty standards, the latest entry in his Gymkhana series is a riot to watch — and now that the smoke has settled, he’s giving us a peek behind the scenes.

Of course, there’s no question that the HOONITRON is a new-school machine. So it was interesting to see that some of the techniques used to construct it are as old-world as it gets. I’m talking specifically about the fact that before the final bodywork was completed, the prototype was sculpted in clay. Given how much can be done with 3D modeling today, the choice to use a physical medium to massage the lines was an interesting one.

But it’s hard to argue with results, and as James Bond taught us in Skyfall, “sometimes the old ways are best.”

As Bastian Rosenauer, Chief Engineer of the HOONITRON project explains, making a high-performance electric vehicle with the level of maneuverability Block requires for his videos was no easy feat. Specifically, the extremely short wheelbase meant finding a place for the battery was a challenge. And obviously, weight distribution — along with giving the machine the proper center of gravity — was a big factor as well. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Block describes the finished product as the most advanced drift car he’s ever driven.

At this point, exactly what’s next for the Hoonitron remains to be seen. But given the fact that Audi is headed toward an all-electric lineup, and has no intentions of letting its motorsport involvement fall by the wayside, you can bet some of the lessons learned here will be used to craft other weapons-grade kit. Perhaps someday, we’ll even see Audi return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an electric endurance car…

Photos: Audi

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VIDEO: Ken Block Returns in ELECTRIKHANA, Sliding Through Las Vegas


Move over Gymkana and make way for ELECTRIKHANA featuring Ken Block’s new Audi S1 HOONITRON in high stakes action!

The only thing better than a Gymkhana video is the new ELECTRIKHANA video featuring Ken Block’s latest feats. If you’ve never seen one of the videos on the Hoonigan YouTube channel, you’re definitely missing out. Donuts, jumps, and epic slides combined with incredible cinematography make Gymkhana one of the best-produced events you can watch anywhere.

This time Ken Block returns in the Audi S1 HOONITRON for an event he calls ELECTRIKHANA. Inspired by the 1985 Audi Sport Quattro S1, the S1 HOONITRON uses an 800-volt bi-motor setup combined with all-wheel-drive. The setting is the Las Vegas strip, lit up in all of its splendor. It’s a bit eerie watching him drift wildly with the absence of internal-combustion mayhem. But the shriek of the electric motors and tortured howl of the tires is just otherworldly.

Ken Block is The King

At 54, Ken Block is still the king and shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, the electric power of the Audi S1 HOONITRON allows him to do even more incredible things behind the wheel. Backward drifts, reversing turns in mid-slide, even spinning in place. The nine-and-a-half-minute video includes all of the usual stunts and humor of his other videos. But it will take you at least three tries to watch it because you won’t believe what you just saw.

You’ll also rewatch it for all of the historic Audi car cameos. There are too many to mention, but the video includes the original Sport Quattro S1, an R18 e-Tron Le Mans race car, the new e-Tron GT, and an assortment of vintage Quattro models. It’s just a treat to see those cars under the spectacular lighting of the Las Vegas Strip. How they pulled all of it off, including locking down The Strip for Ken Block’s stunts, is incredible. It must have cost Audi more than 10 Superbowl commercials worth of money. But it’s one hell of a way to advertise electric cars!

Photos: Hoonigan   

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Mark Webb is fascinated by anything automotive and particularly loves cars that are unusual or have a good story. He’s owned a variety of cars from 60’s muscle, Japanese imports, and oddities like a VW Thing and Porsche 924. After 20 years in the automotive and tech industries, he’s a walking encyclopedia of car info and is always on the lookout for his next project or a good road trip.