Penrith rally driver Paul Bird’s hopes of adding to his two Grizedale Stages victories ended in retirement on the third stage today after a promising start in his native Lake District.
Along with County Durham co-driver Jack Morton in the Dom Buckley Motorsport/IRS-prepared Ford Focus WRC08, with backing from Frank Bird Poultry, Be Wiser Insurance, Hager, WIX Filters, Silkolene and Loco Energy Drink, Bird was on the pace from the start and held third place after the opening two stages, just two seconds off the leader.
Hoping to add a third victory to those achieved in 2009 and 2014, the former National Rally champion from Langwathby was well on the pace in the opening Grizedale test when he slid wide on a corner and slipped into a ditch and despite his best efforts to extract the car, it was game over.
Despite his two successes, Grizedale has not been a happy hunting ground for the Cumbrian in the past when he has retired within sight of victory but nonetheless, Bird was happy with his pace after not competing in the Lake District forests for the past couple of years.
Paul Bird: “The car was absolutely fantastic today, the best it’s ever been I reckon, and we were certainly on the pace. We had a good run through the first couple of stages and I was trying my hardest in Grizedale knowing that’s where the rally would be won or lost. We were flying when I ran into a corner a little bit fast and knew I couldn’t make the next one, so I had no option but to put it in a ditch otherwise we’d have rolled. We’ve had a bit of bad luck lately, but we’ll be out again very soon and, if I can make it, I’d like to do the Jack Frost Stages Rally at Croft next month.”
Indeed, if Bird can contest the Darlington & District Motor Club-organised event which takes place at the North Yorkshire racetrack on Sunday 21st January 2018, he’ll be looking to add to his four victories between 2009 to 2012 which sees him as the rally’s most successful driver.
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Pictures attached courtesy of James Ward/Chicane Media
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.