Cook Climbs to 7th in WRC3 Championship
It has been a tough fight for British Rally Driver Louise Cook to survive in the sport of rallying and with the disappointment of not getting to Rally Finland still very raw, Louise had one hell of a job to make it to her next World Rally Championship round, WRC Rally Germany.
Louise reached out to lots of potential sponsors and also launched a crowdfunding campaign to the public for the event. Louise gained the support of Be Wiser Insurance Services, NGK and United Worldwide Logistics, which all brought Louise a lot closer and with some extra support through the Grand Opportunity campaign and the crowdfunding, things were even closer.
Though Louise did not quite raise the full budget needed and did not have the funds for the accommodation and the inflated rally prices. So, Louise and her co-driver had to resort to sleeping in the Fiesta recce car for the week whilst competing on the rally.
“It was tough, the rallies are tough mentally anyway and your rest is important. We had no choice if we wanted to compete and keep the WRC3 championship alive.”
There was no budget or time for testing either for Louise, meaning that the first time she drove the rally car was on the event’s 6km shakedown stage in which she managed to squeeze in 2 runs before the start.
“It’s not ideal. It is always best to test and tweak the car to suit you as a driver, plus have time to just get used to how it feels. It is hard enough when you fly in to an airport and jump into a hire car on the road, but with this you have to go flat out from the off and not hit anything in the meantime.”
It was the 1st time Louise had driven on tarmac in 6 years, the last time being Rallye Monte-Carlo in 2012. It was also the 1st time on the Michelin tarmac slicks meaning the learning curve was steep for the British Driver.
Louise was hit with a heavy rainfall at the start of stage 3 of the rally. The narrow Mittelmosel vineyard stage, and with being seeded 30 cars behind her rivals in the WRC3 class, she was the only driver to suffer the torrential rain on the stage.
“We lost loads, wet tarmac on slicks is always much much slower than the dry. The biggest thing was that the handbrake wasn’t working , we had to stop and reverse on 10 junctions, we lost minutes.”
The crew were feeling pretty deflated after the stage now being so far off of their WRC3 competition.
The team found the problem in the night service and changed the handbrake master cylinder which now meant Louise had a handbrake that worked but a large percentage of the tight cornered vineyard stages had already passed.
The Saturday leg included the notorious Panzerplatte stage on the American Army ground near Baumholder. This stage provides a real mix of surfaces and the roads can get rough in places. Louise noticed a slow puncture halfway in and had to stop and change it in the stage, losing lots of time in the process.
The 40km Panzerplatte stage is known for being hard on brakes and tyres and a slight problem Louise had from the rally start was getting worse.
“The brake discs felt slightly warped, but after Panzerplatte they were much worse. The problem is, when you are not on the brakes and the discs are warped, they start to push the brake pads away from the discs, leaving you with a bigger gap than normal creating a really long travel on the pedal before any braking happens, it can be scary when you are braking from high speed.”
The discs were changed at the Saturday night service and the pads refreshed ready for the Sunday stages.
“Now I have good brakes, the car is now stopping and when you know you can stop, you can attack more”.
Louise went on to set her 1st fastest time in WRC 3 on the tricky Grafschaft vineyard stage.
“I caught the car in front and it was really hard to see with all the dust from the gravel cuts on the corners. It was so tricky with the vineyard walls so close one side and the vines the other. I had to back off a lot, I was stuck behind the car for a few minutes at least so it was nice to see the fastest WRC3 time on the board by 0.9 seconds still.”
Louise’s gaining of 15 points from the event for 3rd place in WRC3 launch her up to 7th from the 23 drivers in the WRC3 standings and importantly keeps her in a great position for the WRC3 championship.
Rally Turkey is next, but with the funding pot empty again, it all starts again today for the only female in the World Rally Championship.
WRC3 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
1 FRANCESCHI 79
2 LARIO 68
3 RÅDSTRÖM 62
4 BERGKVIST 61
5 BRAZZOLI 55
6 TORN 33
7 COOK 30
8 TANNERT 30
9 FOLB 28
10 DEVINE 26
11 OLDRATI 20
12 BANAZ 20
13 MOLLE 18
14 HOLDER 16
15 BOTTARELLI 15
16 WILLIAMS 14
17 PROTASOV 8
18 ACCORNERO 4
19 FERNÀNDEZ PIRAINO 3
20 CHALAL 0
21 SIRMACIS 0
22. TAKALE 0
23. HOKKALA 0