Tue 08 Mar 2022

Cook plans WRC comeback bid

Former WRC Production Car Cup two-wheel drive champion Louise Cook is eyeing a return to the stages in the WRC3 category.

Cook, who became the first female driver to win a non-gender FIA World Rally Championship title in 2012, last competed at Wales Rally GB in 2019. 

Knock-on effects of the pandemic have kept the Briton out of the driving seat in recent times, but she hopes to return for four rallies this season in the now four-wheel drive WRC3 category. 

“You're always trying to get out, but the last couple of years have been a really hard game for everybody,” Cook told WRC.com. 

“With a lot of people being on furlough and everything else that was going on, companies just weren’t thinking about sponsorship and marketing. I feel like things kind of picked up towards the end of 2021 and now, in the UK at least, people really want to get back to normal.

“We’ve got a small window now before the new financial year starts in April, so I’ve been talking to a lot of companies and so far there has been a lot of positivity,” she added.

The 34-year-old hopes to attract potential supporters through a new lower cost sponsorship package, with plans to kick off her season at Rally Italia Sardegna in June followed by a trip to Finland in August. Both are rallies she has previously contested, although her planned outings after then are still to be decided.

The bulk of Cook’s rallying career has been spent in front-wheel driven Ford Fiesta cars, but she hopes to secure enough funding to carry out pre-event testing and get to grips with the four-wheel drive switch. 

“I want to try and chuck everything I can at this,” she explained. “I need to put everything into this year, and it’s kind of like a two-year plan in this car.

“We’re hoping to get the budget to actually do some testing, which is something I’ve never been able to do before. I think I’ve done two test days in 12 years, and with four-wheel drive, you can’t just jump in and expect to get results. Some people are out the week before every rally.

“I don't want to go out and just be there and just finish the rallies anymore - I want to be competitive and go for wins. That's the plan anyway.”

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