Ken Block: James May pays tribute to 'very modest' rally star after death at age 55

Correspondent Martha Fairlie looks back on the life and legacy of Ken Block

James May has led tribute to pro driver Ken Block after his team announced that he had died aged 55 following a snowmobile accident.

The former Top Gear host said that Mr Block was "so good and so precise that there was absolutely nothing anything to worry about," when riding alongside him.

Hoonicorn Racing confirmed the news in a statement posted on social media on Tuesday and described the father-of-three as an "icon."

The post on Instagram read: “It’s with our deepest regrets that we can confirm that Ken Block passed away in a snowmobile accident today.

“Ken was a visionary, a pioneer and an icon. And most importantly, a father and husband. He will be incredibly missed.”

'His personality wasn't like his driving, he was a very nice, very modest man'

Californian-born Block became famous for his various successes behind the wheel, including during the longstanding Gymkhana series of internet videos.

His videos, which earned him nearly two million subscribers on YouTube, saw him piloting a number of high-powered and upgraded cars around inner-city challenges with jumps, slides and hairpins.

Matt LeBlanc (left) and rally driver Ken Block during filming of BBC Top Gear Credit: PA

Block's last post on Twitter was a photograph of his 16-year-old daughter, Lia, taking part part in his latest YouTube video which was due to be posted on Tuesday.

He was introduced to a mainstream British television audience in 2016 when he appeared in an episode of BBC’s Top Gear driving around London with actor and host Matt LeBlanc.

James May was among the famous faces paying tribute to the pro driver on social media on Tuesday, alongside the official Top Gear Twitter page which described Block as an “all-round hero”.

“RIP Ken Block, with thanks for some hilarious days out. Here’s the airfield drifting piece from years back,” May tweeted.

Tanner Foust, who hosted the US version of Top Gear, wrote: “What an incredible person to learn from, battle with and to admire over the last two decades. Ken’s influence on the automotive world cannot be quantified.

“In addition to pioneering a roadmap for the rest of us to follow in the marketing of motorsport — Ken Block was, above all else, a devoted family man. My heart and prayers go out to Lucy and the kids.”

The Sheriff’s Office said the accident took place in Utah’s Wasatch County and that Block "was riding a snowmobile on a steep slope when the snowmobile upended, landing on top of him".

"He was pronounced deceased at the scene from injuries sustained in the accident".

Block became famous for his various successes behind the wheel. Credit: PA

Block was a successful businessman, having co-founded the sportswear company DC Shoes before shifting his focus to Hoonigan Industries, a clothing brand for auto enthusiasts.

He finished second overall in Rally America three times – in 2006, 2008 and 2013 – and competed in the World Rally Championship between 2007 and 2018.

“The #WRC family extends its sympathies to the family and friends of motorsport icon Ken Block,” the WRC-FIA World Rally Championship posted on its official Twitter account.

Meanwhile, the president of Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Mohammed Ben Sulayem, said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend Ken Block. An inspiration for us all and a true gentleman of our sport.

“The @FIA’s thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time. RIP @kblock43.”

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