Langwathby rally driver Paul Bird's hopes of targeting a third consecutive victory at Sol Rally Barbados were dashed when he was forced to retire with suspension damage whilst well in command in the lead.
Driving the Rubis Petroleum and Cockspur Rum-backed Ford Focus WRC08 he was sharing with regular Welsh co driver Aled Davies, the former National rally champion was hoping to back up his victory in last weekend's Scotiabank King of the Hill contest on the Caribbean island.
The Cumbrian MotoGP and British Superbike team owner scorched into the lead following Friday evening's stage around Bushy Park and set fastest times on the next nine stages to hold a 25 second lead as the event entered the final half.
However, it was SS11 that the Dom Buckley IRS-prepared car came to grief as Bird explained:
"We were smashing it and I wasn't even driving to the maximum as I had everything under control. We'd done that stage three times already so I was carrying a little more speed through a corner when I drifted the slightest bit wide. I was hardly off line at all, but there was some cut rock on the exit which I hit and it broke two wheels and the suspension meaning we couldn't continue. This rally is the highlight of my year so I'm naturally gutted, I can accept misfortune anywhere on events, and we've had more than our fair share recently, but it's very hard to take over here. Thanks to Rubis and Cockspur as well as all our other sponsors, we'll be back to fight again next year."
Image courtesy of Himal Reece: Paul Bird in action prior to retiring from Sol Rally Barbados 2014