Cumbrian rally driver Paul Bird made a welcome return to SOL Rally Barbados at the weekend and came away with a superb podium placing by claiming a battling third position.
After claiming runner-up spot in last weekend’s Flow King of the Hill Rallysprint, the Langwathby driver along with Hexham co-driver Jack Morton were hoping to add to his double victory on the Caribbean island after two years away.
Driving the Dom Buckley Motorsport/IRS-prepared Ford Focus WRC08, with backing from Frank Bird Poultry, Be Wiser Insurance, Hager, Fuchs Titan Race and Loco Energy Drink, Bird was immediately on the pace on Friday evening’s opening stage at Vaucluse Raceway to hold second place, just a quarter of a second behind multiple winner Jeffrey Panton.
The charge continued into Saturday where he was trading seconds with Jamaican Panton and co-driver Michael Fennell in their Ford Focus WRC until a puncture on SS9 scuppered any chance of victory as it lost the former ANCRO National champion over a minute and dropped him to third.
Bird battled back as best he could as with Panton clear at the front, the scrap was on for second with fellow Brit and SOL Rally Barbados regular Rob Swann, partnered by Darren Garrod. However, despite clawing some time back through Sunday’s stages, the gap proved too much to bridge and Bird had to settle for a podium finish.
Paul Bird: “That was a long, tough rally and I have to be happy with third overall given my two years away and lack of time on tarmac recently. It was frustrating to pick up the puncture as I don’t know how it happened, but it took all the pressure off Jeffrey and left us to play catch up. Whilst I was a bit rusty, the car was fantastic, and we gave it a good go and I’m happy with my ninth top three finish in ten events here. Congratulations to Jeffrey on his fourth straight win and thanks to the masses of spectators around the island for their support.”
Bird flies home, along with his team and car later today in order to contest this Saturday’s Carlisle Stages Rally in the infamous Kielder Forest as he defends his lead in the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series. For further information, please visit www.pbmuk.net.
Picture attached courtesy of a Nicholas Bhajan Photography.
Notes to Editors:
Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM) are winners of over 180 races in British Superbike Championship, MotoGP CRT, World Superbike Championship, 125cc, 250cc, Supersport British Championships, Superstock National Championships, Isle of Man TT, North West 200, Daytona, Macau GP, and British domestic races. Points scorers in 125cc, 250cc and 500cc GPs. Points scorers in World Supersport, podium finishers in WSB, Superpole winners in World Superbike. They are based at Langwathby near Penrith in Cumbria.