Second Season Smiilles
This weekend, Louise Cook, 23 from Maidstone in Kent became one of the few British females to enter the Premier League of rallying in the UK, the Dulux Trade British Rally Championship. In what is only the start of Louise's second full season, she contested the first round, the Rallye Sunseeker based in Bournemouth.
Rallye Sunseeker was Louise's third event on forestry gravel and the brave youngster took a massive leap to write her own pace notes to describe the stages like the professionals, rather than use the notes that the organisers provide. "Writing notes is one of the hardest parts of the sport. You have to imagine how fast you can drive a corner but are only allowed to recce the stage at 30 mph, then on the rally that corner could be 100 mph plus." Said Louise.
"Half way through the recce, my brain was fried! I felt like I had really thrown myself into the deep end by entering the BRC so early in my career but I really need the experience of writing gravel notes to move on and the DTBRC is the only series in the UK that allow this."
The rally began with a glamorous ceremonial start on the Poole seafront Friday night. A mass of people turned out, around 8,000 to wave the competitors off into the Saturday stages. With autograph signings, radio interviews, TV crews and cameras constantly flashing, Cook felt both excited and positive about the rally and the leap up into to the Dulux Trade British Rally Championship, though in the back of her head she had the worry of driving flat out to her own notes the following morning.
The first stage was not the best start, intercom failure meant Louise had to drive blind. With the minor setback sorted, the second stage went well and Cookie was proud to have been up close to the mix. The third stage was going very well until about 3 miles in, the engine dropped power and the ECU warning light came on. "The car just seemed to die off on me, it felt pretty gutless.
I continued to push throughout the day but my times just weren't reflecting my efforts anymore, I was smoother and faster but it wasn't showing, so disappointing. At least the car kept going and I got some much needed experience with my pacenotes and mileage in the car. It was great to be driving flat out to my own notes, they weren't the best but they were good enough not to crash!"
Louise finished a fantastic 8th place finish in the Formula 2 Championship 17th overall in the DTBRC standings and scored her first International rally points taking two points home. Louise also finished 5th place Fiesta, despite being in the older Fiesta.
"I am just keen to get to the next round with this problem sorted so I can see where I am, I loved the stages, they were pretty slippy and muddy but I liked the challenge of that, my Sweden training really came in to play."
"I want to say a huge thank you to Laser Automotive Tools, United Springs, Quazar International, The Marine Travel Company, Medway Metals and all the Promotion50 sponsors for making the start of this season happen. The car got so much attention with the vinyl wrap design by Spyder Creative, it was funny to have more pictures taken of my car than the 90 grand evos! It was amazing stuff and great for sponsors. Congratulations to All Health Matters who won the Promotion 50 top prize this round"
-source: louise cook