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Rally driver Louise back in driving seat

Tuesday 8th December 2015

REIGNING British female rally champion Louise Cook is back on the road to recovery after having her hopes dashed of taking part in this year’s World Rally Championship

Louise, from Aylesford, who won the WRC Production Car Cup in 2012, has struggled for more than two years to find sufficient sponsorship to enable her to return to the sport.

Just when she had secured enough backing to start the season, and only days before the team was set to leave for the WRC round, Rally Italia Sardinia, in June, a surgical screw from an operation two years before was found to be compromising one of the main arteries beneath her collarbone plate.

Louise was just trying out a new seat when she was struck by pain and numbness in her arm. A few days later and on the eve of her departure for the competition, she experienced severe pain as her arm began to turn purple.

Doctors in A&E at Maidstone Hospital told her not to move her arm too much and certainly not to compete in the rally. She said: “I was heartbroken after all the work that had gone in and the two-year battle raising the funding.”

Since having an operation to repair a snapped clavicle in 2012, Louise had experienced a few small sensations with the arm, but nothing significant.

“I hadn’t suffered any major problems and I had been happily driving since the operation back in 2012. I had even tested a Mini World Rally Car, the fastest type of car in my sport whilst coaching movie star Idris Elba for a BBC documentary.”

Weeks of tests followed, while she was left in pain, unable to use her arm.

She said: “I saw everyone - neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and vascular surgeons. I had X-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, CTs - it took forever to get any answers and the pain was now constant.”

Louise finally got her diagnosis when a CT Angiogram showed her fear that a surgical screw was sticking in her subclavian artery and obstructing blood flow.

Louise has had the clavicle plate removed and is now back on the mend.

She was recently signed off to drive her road car again and is back looking for sponsors for 2016.

“It will take a little time to get full strength back and probably longer to find the sponsorship again. I was hoping for some good momentum and results from this year to help gain the support of other businesses. Now, it feels like I am starting all over again.

“I was so close to getting back to the World Rally Championship and it was ripped away at the last minute. It is just unreal. But thankfully I am still alive.”