Ken Block’s brand new Audi pays tribute to the rally driver’s favourite Audi of all time – the Audi Sport quattro S1 – but with an all-electric twist.
17 December, 2021
Since the announcement back in September that the legendary rally and stunt driver, Ken Block would be working with Audi, speculation has been rife as to what form that collaboration would take. Well, the wait is over – at least the first part of the wait – with the unveiling of the vehicle developed by Audi Sport especially for Block.
The Audi S1 e-tron quattro Hoonitron is an all-electric, one-of-a-kind car that will be featured in a new video that Block is producing with his team as part of his famous Gymkhana series under the working title ‘Elektrikhana’. Developed by Audi Sport in short order time, the S1 Hoonitron pays homage to the rally driver’s favourite Audi, the Audi Sport quattro S1, which charged to fame in the legendary Pikes Peak hillclimb known as the ‘Race To The Clouds’.
Back in 1987, in the hands of Walter Röhrl, the Audi Sport quattro S1 blitzed the Pikes Peak course with its 156 bends in 10 minutes and 47.85 seconds, inspiring a generation of motorsport fans, including a young Ken Block.
“The collaboration with Audi is a very special partnership for me,” says Block. “The brand and its passion for motorsport motivated me to get into rallying” says the American rally ace, whose videos attract a global audience of millions.
“That Audi has now developed this car for me and my team, and has joined us in our next project, has made a dream come true for me. The Hoonitron is writing the next chapter in our history and taking our Gymkhana story into the future.”
The entire development, including the technology, of the S1 Hoonitron was conducted by Audi Sport at the Neckarsulm location, with Audi Design in Ingolstadt responsible for the styling.
“When we first heard about this project, the whole team was thrilled immediately,” says Audi Design Chief, Marc Lichte.
“Knowing that we’re developing a car for a video with Ken Block that millions of people around the world are going to watch has provided our team with additional motivation,” says Lichte. “These new inspirations are also immensely important for our daily work. The development of this car will encourage us to approach future projects with an even more open and progressive mindset.”
“We had the opportunity to develop a car that combines an icon of our brand with the future … it was about creating a modern, all-electric interpretation of the S1 Pikes Peak,” Lichte continues.
“The timeline was extremely tight … while our design process normally takes one to one-and-a-half years, we only had four weeks from the first drawing to the final design. We were constantly in touch with Ken Block and his team and engaged in intensive exchanges.”
The result is nevertheless stunning, drawing on the brand’s history and bringing it roaring into the modern day.
“The S1 Hoonitron combines a lot of what Audi was already famous for in the nineteen-eighties,” says Block.
“For instance, the car’s spectacular aerodynamics have now been translated into a totally modern form. I think it’s cool that the Audi designers have been inspired by their own past and uniquely transferred the car’s technologies and appearance into the present.”
With two electric motors, all-wheel drive, a carbon fibre chassis and the full safety standards as prescribed by the FIA – the S1 Hoonitron’s is a serious performance vehicle, built for a man with serious motorsport credentials.
But even with Block’s extraordinary experience behind the wheel of high-powered performance vehicles, he has had to become accustomed to the immediate power delivery of the all-electric Audi.
“Audi gave me the opportunity to test it [S1 Hoonitron] for a few days in Germany,” says Block of his first test drives of the S1 Hoonitron in November.
“I’m familiar with a wide variety of cars using internal combustion engines and transmissions, but there were a lot of new things for me to learn here. Spinning into a donut at 150km/h directly from standstill – just using my right foot – is an all-new experience for me. Our work was focused on getting the car and I used to each other. My thanks go to the whole Audi Sport squad for their outstanding teamwork.”
Now the next phase of the collaboration can get underway in earnest as Block and his team get to work creating the next chapter in the Gymkhana story – Elektrikhana – with the Audi S1 e-tron Hoonitron writing a whole new chapter in e-mobility.
Want to ensure you always receive the latest news and features from Audi? Subscribe now to the Audi Magazine newsletter.