Ken Block may be best-known for his Gymkhana video series, but over the past couple of years, he's begun competing on the world stage as well. He's competed in the Rally America series and even in the World Rally Championship, albeit with limited success. The Red Bull Global Rallycross series and FIA World Rallycross Championship have been more up his alley, but Turkish fans who'd hoped to see the driftmaster doing his thing in Istanbul this weekend will be disappointed to learn that Block has apparently withdrawn from the event.
It will ultimately be up to the FIA to decide whether the event should go on.
The reason, according to reports, comes down to security. Skirmishes along the Syrian border and protests on the streets of Istanbul (on the opposite European side of the country, closer to Greece and Bulgaria) have, according to some, made the country unsafe for visitors. Apparently Block is among those heeding the travel advisories.
Block was set to compete against Tanner Foust at the Turkish rallycross event. We've yet to receive word from Foust, the only other American in the series, on whether he'll still drive in Istanbul, however former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve from Canada cited conflicting commitments preventing him from participating in this weekend's round. It will ultimately be up to the FIA, however, to decide whether the event should go on.
It's not the first time we've seen protests in the region get in the way of motor racing. The Bahrain Grand Prix had to be canceled in 2011 due to political unrest, and there was considerable debate over whether it should have ever returned to the Formula One calendar. The WRC's Jordan Rally was postponed the same year for similar reasons. And, of course, organizers moved the famous Dakar Rally out of nearby North Africa several years ago following repeated and credible threats from al-Qaeda. (The cancellation of the World Touring Car Championship race in Morocco was reportedly due to financial, not political reasons.)
Turkey itself made a splash at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix when it had its governor of Cyprus, over which there is an ongoing dispute with Greece, present the winner's trophy to Felipe Massa - a controversial political display which reportedly cost the government a $5 million fine.