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Louise Cook, 24 from Maidstone in Kent, became the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Ladies Champion this weekend and came 2nd from 13 in Britain’s most competitive one make rally series the M-Sport Ford Fiesta Sport Trophy, despite being in the older slower Fiesta ST against the 11 new Fiesta R2’s, top ten in the BRC Formula 2 championship, 7th/21 Junior, and 7th/21 in BRC R2 Class. “I am over the moon, I thought the cancellation of the Isle of Man Rally had taken all my chances away of a better championship position, but with no drop scores and our consistency through the season, in the end it worked in our favour!”

The late news just the day before Trackrod Rally Yorkshire that October’s Rally Isle of Man was unexpectedly cancelled meant Trackrod Rally Yorkshire became the season’s final event. The drop scores of the British Rally Championship were no longer applicable so all 6 scores now counted. The news reaching crews only a day before the event turned strategies upside down. Cookie suffering a cruel fate on the previous round with a non start meant she was not in a position to fight. “As soon as I got the email, I spent an hour with a spreadsheet working out every possibility. I worked out if I won the rally outright I could not finish any higher than 4th in the Fiesta Sport Trophy, the same as if I just got the car to finish, but I would fall further down without the finish. No rally driver wants to drive slowly; it was painful, and much more stressful than driving flat out! I knew I had a duty to my sponsors to give them the best result I could after all their support this season. I had to be professional and do my job. I worked out every scenario and in the unlikely event of the Finland Fiesta Sport Trophy Champion 2010 Jussi Kumpumaki and ex Karting Champion Nick Cristofaro not making the finish; I could get as far up as second in the Fiesta Sport Trophy.”

“It was a shame to have a closed forest road and not be able to exploit it, but I had to do a job, and even though it was frustrating, sometimes the championship is what it has to be about. It was the hardest thing I had done all season, too much time to think and the slower rhythm upsets the car and tyre grip.”

The first stage, 14 miles of the notorious Dalby Forest got under way. 5 miles in, Louise’s competitor, Jussi Kumpumaki had crashed off the road. “It was good to see that they were alright and the car, though dented, did not look so bad. I just thought these stages must be really tricky as the Finish Fiesta Sport Champion Kumpumaki is a great driver. It started to blow my mind and I felt the pressure double as a finish would now mean joint 3rd with Jussi.”

Cookie carried on through the next three stages and got to the first service all intact with no problems to report. It was then back out to another two stages, the Langdale stage being particularly rough, a real car breaker. “I thought if your car is not quite up to scratch, this is where you are going to break down.” said Louise. The crew made it through and then back for 2nd service. After looking through the times, competitor Nick Cristofaro had no times for the last 2 stages, then Louise noticed he was not at the time control for Service In. It was little known to Louise, Nick had fell victim to the stage, breaking a driveshaft and meant zero points. This now meant Louise’s professional strategy and painful caution had put her in a position to climb to an unbelievable 2nd place in the Ford Fiesta Sport Trophy if she could make it to the end. The pressure was now really on. “I still had 3 stages to get round, including Langdale, which had a surface like the Moon!! I couldn’t believe it. I was cringing at e
very bump and pot hole and avoided anything that could get in the way of 2nd place. I was accelerating so progressively to look after the drive shafts, short shifted to save the engine and gearbox, it was intense! I didn’t bother looking at stage times all day that’s for sure!”

Louise did get round the last three stages drama free and 2nd in the Fiesta Sport Trophy Championship for 2011 was hers along with being crowned British Ladies Rally Champion and in her first ever British Rally Championship season.

“Unbelievably great end to a crazy season, it would not have been impossible without all the support from everyone, I thank everyone massively for making this possible, you know who you all are! I could not have done this without my sponsors A4G, Flamingo Land, FloPlast, GetMeMedia, Medway Metals, Motoforce, Quazar International, RAJ Motorsport, Rebel Nails, Rosler UK, Seymour Van Hire, Spyder Creative, The Marine Travel Company, United Springs, Wolfrace Wheels all my product sponsors and a big thank you to all my Promotion 50 supporters.

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