Sunday, 17 January 2010

Andrea Hall

An active child who competed in motocross from a young age, Andrea Hall has always had a passion for adrenalin. She is an extreme watersports fanatic and a stunt driver, and has shown tantalising glimpses of brilliance behind the wheel of a rally car.

Like Louise Aitken-Walker before her, she first came to prominence by winning Silverstone Rally School's "Find a Lady Rally Driver" contest in 1992. She put her prize money to good use and only two years later, walked away with the National Ladies' Championship. Her car was a Peugeot 205 GTI.

However, Andrea was not content with just ladies' awards. In 1995, she drove in four major rallies in four different cars, recording strong class finishes in each. The following year, she stuck with a powerful Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth, which gave her another National Ladies' Championship, an excellent position in the National Junior Championship and some good overall results. 1996 also saw her only international finish. Driving a Mitsubishi Galant, she was 44th in the RAC Rally, eleventh in Group N. Her co-driver was Sue Mee. The year before, she had entered the RAC in a Mini, but did not finish.

Sticking with Ford power in 1997, she took a step down in horsepower to the Ford Ka Championship, a recognised training ground for professional drivers. She finished the season as the winner. This was in addition to another National Ladies' title and fourteenth overall in the much more competitive British Open Championship, driving a Ford Escort Cosworth.

A quiet year followed, but Andrea was back with a bang in 1999. The National Ladies' award was hers as a matter of course, but it was one of several that year. Her Ford Escort RS2000 Kit Car was one of the ones to beat and she finished the season as Class A7 and Formula Two champion, one of the most powerful classes in the championship. Her performances also helped Ford to the Manufacturers' award.

Unfortunately, her finances began to let her down the following season. Unable to compete at a level she was capable of, she sat the season out. Things looked brighter for 2001, when Shropshire Rally School organised a drive for her in the Volkswagen Polo Rally Challenge. She was tipped as a possible series winner, but the deal fell through at the last minute.

The first major rally of 2002 was Bournemouth's Rallye Sunseeker, which Andrea entered in a Group N Escort, in order to get some stage practice. She went out with mechanical problems, and funding troubles meant that she did not compete for the rest of the year. Her Ford connections won her some development work on the Rallye Concept Trainer vehicle, a Ford Ka-based buggy developed as a possible junior category for rallying. She was also considered for the Daihatsu Cuore seat for the World Cup Rally, but lost out to Sophie Robinson.

Andrea's stated plan for a while afterwards was to earn enough sponsorship to compete in a WRC-spec car on the British Championship. However, she has not competed for many years and seems to have retired. She continues to do her stunt driving for TV and film. Despite her inactivity, she remained a highly-regarded driver for some years.

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