We speak to Fiesta ST M-Sport driver Louise Cook before her latest event.
Louise Cook is 24, from Maidstone in Kent and is competing in the MSA Dulux Trade British Rally Championship in the premiere league of rallying in the UK in only her second full season.
She won the British Rally Championship Challenge RC4 Class in her first full season 2010. She competes in a Ford Fiesta ST M sport Sporting Trophy Spec.
She is currently 4th in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy UK out of 13, despite being in the older, slower Fiesta ST as opposed to the new sequential and more modified Fiesta R2. She is currently leading the Female Cup against Australian WRC Academy driver Molly Taylor and is lying 7th place Junior and 9th overall in the British Rally Championship Formula 2 Championship.
We found out a bit about her…
ff: So… You’re a girl doing rallying. Why? Cookie: Rallying is the most demanding form of driving out there. I love the feeling of going flat out, I love launching the car as far as possible over the jumps, I love sliding on gravel, I love the feeling of braking as late as I can and I cant do this anywhere else than on a rally.
ff: How long have you been doing it? And how difficult is it getting into rallying? Cookie: This is my second season now, last year I did the feeder series to the Dulux Trade British Rally Championship, the British Rally Championship Challenge. I won my class and came top 10, so that I was stoked with that for a first season. I do not feel any motorsport is difficult to get into, you make your own limits. Do not get me wrong, it is a lot of money, but I have no money and I have come from nothing, I am not one of the rich kids in motorsport so I have to constantly drum up sponsorship every hour of every day otherwise I wont be able to compete. So, I know that lack of funds always gets in peoples way, but you have to find your way around every obstacle, anyone can do the same, its just takes a load of hard work, but it is worth it.
ff: Who was your hero growing up? Cookie: Barbie.
ff: Why have you chosen a Fiesta? Cookie: The Fiesta ST is a really great little rally car actually, I learnt to drive in a Fiesta, and one of my road cars was a Fiesta so it just all made sense!
ff: What has been your best event so far? Cookie: I absolutely adore the Jim Clark Rally, in Scotland. There are so many flat out sections of road and high speed over jumps. It has some great stages that have me grinning from ear to ear. The spectators are a great crowd too filling the roadside.
ff: And what’s been your biggest and most scary ‘off’? Cookie: Haven’t had one… yet! I have hung in a few ditches that’s for sure, but as long as I do not fall in them I am not bothered! I did triple roll out in Sweden at 85mph a few years ago when we were training on a frozen lake. I was not driving though so I do not count that one… I broke my collar bone and nine ribs, but I went out the next day and actually set the fastest time with one arm, I still do not know how I managed that looking back, I was just so determined not be knocked back by it, it took everything I had though.
ff: Tell us a bit about how you manage to cover the costs of rallying. Cookie: The costs of rallying is the hardest thing about it for me. If I can just keep pounding away at seeking sponsors every day then surely it will all work out…? Promotion50 was an idea I came up with while designing cars at Coventry Uni, I thought if all these students gave me a pound I could start a rally career and I developed the idea from there. I basically ask companies to donate 50 pounds towards my season. In return they get a spot on the back of my Fiesta rally car, logo and link on my website www.cutecookie.co.uk. I then have a fun raffle each rally and 11 lucky companies are drawn out of my pink hat and they win some big advertising spots on the rally car! I have 300 businesses on board so far, but I need 1000, so have to keep pushing! So, this is what I do day in day out, I shout about my Promotion50 campaign to everyone around my local industrial estates, and it really did kick start my season last year.
ff: You’re really active on the social networks. Do you find they’ve helped spread the word about your rallying? Cookie: I think so, I am just trying to let the whole world know about what I am trying to achieve and hopefully they will think it is a good thing and want to follow my progress. We have a cool competition at the moment to attract some more support and make a noise. We are giving a normal member of the public the chance to be the third driver on Rally GB next year. We are simply drawing out the hat each month 10 people who will go forward into a semi final where they will be put through some tests. 10 will then be chosen for the final and one lucky winner will drive for our team Rally Team GB on Rally GB, it is going to be awesome. We hope it will get more people into rallying as well, not just as spectators but also as competitors. www.facebook.com/RallyTeamGB. It’s so nice to give such a wicked opportunity to somebody.
ff: Ever had any interesting comments from fans? Cookie: I get a lot of lovely supportive messages from rally/car/motorsport enthusiasts. I guess the funniest thing someone ever wrote to me was: “If Carlsberg made rally drivers”, and that was it! It made me chuckle.
ff: What was your first Ford? Cookie: My first road car was a Ford. My late father used to work for Ford designing parts of the formidable Escort Mk2, so the Ford genes run deep in my family. My first Ford was a 1.3i blue KA with some snazzy grey bumpers, lol. It wasn’t long before this was too slow for me. In fact, my second road car was a Ford Fiesta 1.4 Zetec and then my third was a Ford as well, a funky StreetKA! I wanted one for ages, I finally got one and then had to sell that baby not long after really, to pay for the first round of the British Rally Championship Challenge in 2010, it was the right move. You can not drive fast on the road, it is not the place, I knew I needed to focus my energy into rallying.
ff: And what’s your favourite fast Ford of all time? Cookie: Has got to be the Ford Fiesta World Rally Car.
ff: Do you see yourself ever competing at the top level of WRC? Cookie: It is my ultimate goal to become the first Female World Rally Champion. I feel I have what it takes, but I need some serious dollar to make it happen. I need a dollar dollar, a dollar is what I need! So, if I can get the backing, there won’t be any stopping me.
ff: Do you have any shout outs, anyone you’d like to thank? Cookie: I’d just love to give a huge thank you to my sponsors, The Marine Travel Company, Medway Metals, Quazar International, RAJ Motorsport, Rosler UK, United Springs, Wolfrace Wheels, and all my product and Promotion50 sponsors. I could not do it without all of them. Also a massive thanks to my family and friends Andrew Davis, Gary Whistlecraft, Harry Turner and Stefan Davis, who help make things happen. Thanks Guys.