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Ken Block’s Gymkhana Is in Good Hands With Travis Pastrana

Even if you’re not in the drifting scene, you’ve probably heard of Ken Block. Over the years he and the Hoonigan team have earned a name for themselves with their Gymkhana videos. So much so, that there’s even an Amazon Prime show dedicated to one video’s production. And now, there’s a new one out—only Block’s not in the driver’s seat. Instead, it’s racer Travis Pastrana’s turn to smoke some tires.

Looking back at Ken Block’s Gymkhana insanity

Ken Block didn’t start out as a rally driver, AutoExpress reports, though he was active in a number of other sports. But after leaving DC Shoes, the company he co-founded, he decided to get into both rallying and drifting. And to practice his skills, Automobile explains, he ran ‘gymkhana’ courses, which feature a variety of obstacles participants have to drift, spin, and slide around. Think parkour, but with a rally car.

The first Gymkhana video, ‘Gymkhana Practice,’ was released in 2008. At the time, Block was racing a 530-hp 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Top Gear reports. Compared to what was to come, the video is fairly simple: an empty airfield, a few cones and tire stacks, and some barriers. But Block’s drifting skills earned the video, at the time of writing, 16.3 million views. And it launched an ever-escalating video series.

1977 Ford F-150 Hoonitruck
1977 Ford F-150 Hoonitruck | Hoonigan via YouTube

Since then, the Hoonigan team has released Gymkhana 2 through 10, as well as several spin-off videos, such as the hill-climbing-themed ‘Climbkhana’ series. The stunts have gotten more complex along the way, seeing Block dodge trains and slide around city streets, Autoweek reports. And the cars evolved to match. Past star cars include Ford Fiesta rally cars, a Focus RS, a heavily-modified Escort RS Cosworth, and the 914-hp ‘Hoonitruck,’ Motor1 reports.

The latest video, Gymkhana 11, doesn’t have Ken Block behind the wheel, though, Autoweek reports. Instead, he’s taking a break and letting fellow racer and rival Travis Pastrana take the reins. But while the face is new, the wheels are familiar. That’s because to bring the series “back to its roots,” Jalopnik reports, Gymkahana once again stars a Subaru WRX STI.

Getting Travis Pastrana and a Subaru WRX STI ready for Gymkhana 11

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To be clear, Travis Pastrana has the necessary skills to step in for Block, The Drive explains. He’s competed in rally and rallycross races and broken three of Evel Knievel’s motorcycle stunt records, The Drive reports. But for Gymkhana 11, Travis Pastrana couldn’t be behind the wheel of just ‘any’ Subaru WRX STI.

The bare carbon-fiber Gymkhana 11 Subaru WRX STI
Gymkhana 11 Subaru WRX STI bare | Subaru

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This is why the WRX STI prepared by Vermont SportsCar, the firm which manages Subaru’s US motorsports efforts, is anything but ordinary, MotorTrend reports. Under the hood is an 862-hp 2.3-liter turbocharged flat-4 engine. In comparison, the standard STI has a 310-hp 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4. And for good measure, Pastrana’s car has a hood-exit exhaust system.

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Besides the extra horsepower, Travis Pastrana’s WRX STI has a carbon-fiber body complete with numerous aero add-ons, CarThrottle reports. The latter includes multiple front-mounted dive planes, fender-mounted winglets, a rear diffuser, and an active two-tier rear wing, The Drive reports. Naturally, they’re all made of carbon fiber.

With all that plus a stripped interior and full roll cage, Pastrana’s WRX STI weighs over 800 pounds less than the road-going version. And to help it survive the inevitable jumps, it rides on long-travel suspension.

The new film does the series proud

As of this writing, Gymkhana 11 is out on YouTube. And based on how well Travis Pastrana nailed the stunts—which include a powerboat—series fans have nothing to worry about.

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