Published: 10:51, 13 June 2012
Champion rally driver Louise Cook had put her trophies on eBay to help raise enough money to go racing in New Zealand
by Martin Jefferies
A cash-strapped champion rally driver from Kent who was forced to auction her trophies to save her promising career has raised enough money to go racing again.
Earlier this week, Louise Cook from Maidstone put her trophies up for sale on eBay in a desperate bid to raise £17,000 to compete in New Zealand.
The 24-year-old had been facing a £60,000 fine and exclusion from the World Rally Championship if she failed to make the start line in Auckland next weekend. She would also have been stripped of her coveted rally licence.
But a huge fundraising drive and just nine hours' sleep this week has seen her reach her target with just days to spare.
omg 9hours sleep all week! so close now i can taste it 3k off and promised £1100 :o/ gigantic thanks to everyone! #teardrops— louise cook (@louisecookgb) june 15, 2012
The online auction for Louise's trophies, which finishes next Monday, has already fetched more than £1,100.
"It might seem a bit extreme to some but there's only one trophy I want in my collection and that's the WRC," she said this week.
"If I have to trade my trophies to get to where I need to, I'm willing to accept that. They may even be worth a lot of money one day."
Last night, Louise was boarding a plane to New Zealand to contest round five of the WRC's production class – although she will have to borrow a race car when she gets there.
Her Ford Fiesta ST was damaged in last month's Acropolis Rally in Greece, which is famed for its punishing roads and gruelling temperatures.
Champion rally driver Louise Cook has put her trophies on eBay
Under WRC rules, rally drivers must decide which rounds they want to contest at the start of the season.
Louise chose just one 'long-haul' rally, thinking she would have plenty of time to raise the £17,000 needed to compete in New Zealand.
Failure to take part would have seen her fined £60,000 – £15,000 for each of this season's four remaining rallies.
Louise had warned the penalty would have ended her rallying career.
The racer, who made the switch to the WRC this season, is the reigning British Rally Championship ladies' champion.
Racing alongside co-driver Stefan Davis, she made her WRC debut in January's Rallye Monte-Carlo, finishing in second place.