Road to the top has been far from easy

RUPERT Svendsen-Cook may now be living a dream lifestyle as a racing driver on the support series of Formula One, but his journey to the higher echelons of motorsport has been far from easy.

RUPERT Svendsen-Cook may now be living a dream lifestyle as a racing driver on the support series of Formula One, but his journey to the higher echelons of motorsport has been far from easy.

From the moment his father and uncle first took him go-karting at the age of eight, Svendsen-Cook, whose mother Anna is half-Norwegian, announced that he wanted to be a Formula One driver.

As he has grown up that childhood dream has never faded and the Ipswich youngster has fought tooth and nail to get to the advanced stage he is at now.

Having shot up the karting system, Svendsen-Cook found himself racing in the British Championships and representing England at the age of 15. It was at this stage that the teenager met his first major hurdle in the form of financial difficulty.

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He explains: “My dad (Jonathan) had been working hard to fund me through the karting and suddenly we got to a stage where we just couldn't afford the next step up. I wanted to move into cars but for three or four months it looked like it would be the end of my racing career.

“I was so determined to carry on though that I made my own sponsorship proposal and sent it to every company I could find. If I sent 50 letters I would be lucky if I got one reply. It was hard to keep motivated but I just kept trying and trying.”

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Eventually Svendsen-Cook's persistence paid off and enough sponsorship was secured in order for him to go forward for testing with some of the various Formula BMW UK teams.

With his ability never in doubt, Svendsen-Cook quickly won himself a place with Team Loctite for the 2007 season but, although he performed solidly enough in the domestic series, the teenager was often towards the back of the field and found himself suffering a crisis of confidence.

“Last year was very much a rookie year. I'm still essentially a rookie this year, but last year I was a real rookie. I had come straight in at the top end of car racing straight from karts and was up against much more experienced drivers.

“I couldn't afford to test during the winter, which put me further back, but I just kept working in the gym and hoping that I would get another chance at the end-of-the-season.”

Thankfully, with the concept of Formula BMW supporting Formula One as a European series for 2008 being formulated, a number of teams had seen enough potential in Svendsen-Cook and offered him some pre-season testing.

Once in the seat of a Double R Racing car Svendsen-Cook excelled, recording the fastest time amongst all those testing to instantly earn himself a seat on the team.

“It was at that moment that I realised again that I was fast and that I could still compete with the best,” said Svendsen-Cook.

This year has provided an equally steep learning curve for the teenager, but although he has not always posted the fastest lap times, his stamina and consistency have impressed a number of key figures.

Steve and Dave Robertson of Double R Racing, who directly report back to F1 driver Kimi Räikkönen, have been in constant touch with the Ipswich resident, while valued sponsorship has come from a major Swiss wealth management company and Puma.

The Formula BMW Europe series, which has already seen races at Barcelona (Spain), Zolder (Belgium) and Silverstone (England) is this weekend at Hockenheim.

Following races at Budapest (Hungary), Valencia (Spain) Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) and Monza (Italy), Svendsen-Cook will assess his progress and look at the next stage of his career, with Formula 3 a distinct possibility.

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