On only his second ever competitive drive in a rally car, Penrith-born driver Frank Bird followedup a stunning performance on his stage rally debut at Donington Park two weeks ago with a fantastic outright victory on today’s Tilemaster Adhesives Lee Holland Memorial Rally 2019 at Anglesey.
Contesting the penultimate round of the competitive Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship with MSVR, the 19-year-old Cumbrian along with Hexham co-driver Jack Morton in the Dom Buckley Motorsport/IRS-prepared Ford Focus WRC07, with backing from Frank Bird Poultry, Be Wiser Insurance, Fuchs Silkolene, PBM and Hager, lost time on the opening stage before upping the pace.
From 20th place overall, Bird set fastest time on SS2 to move up to ninth before a pair of fastest times on SS3 and SS4 had him and Morton up to third overall at the lunchtime halt behind the experienced Guy Smith (Ford Fiesta) and defending champion Chris West (Peugeot 306).
Frank continued where he left off and he hit the front on SS6 to lead by 25 seconds and he held on over the final two stages, setting fastest time on those as well for good measure, to cross the finish ramp over a minute ahead of runner-up West, to claim a sensational outright victory after his class win on his debut.
Frank Bird: “What a day, I can’t quite believe it! My second ever rally and I ended up winning it! The first stage didn’t quite go to plan again as I stalled it on a tight hairpin and lost about 30 seconds. But after that we just kept chipping away at the leaders, winning seven out of the eight stages. Jack once again was brilliant, he helped so much, and the car was great all day so thanks to the team and of course thanks to my dad and our sponsors.”
Paul Bird, PBM Team Owner: “Frank drove a mega rally today, we couldn’t have asked for anythingmore. He’s taken to the car like a duck to water and looks so at home in it. That’s a class win and an overall win in his opening two events so it’s coming to him naturally. The plan is to keep building momentum and challenging for more outright victories from now on.”
Frank’s next rally outing is planned for April 7th with the Alan Healy Memorial Rally at Cadwell Park which comprises the final round of the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship with MSVR. In between, the teenager will be preparing for the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup which gets underway at Monza on April 12/14, having completed successful tests at Magny-Cours and Paul Ricard in France over the past couple of weeks.
1 Frank Bird/Jack Morton, Ford Focus 07 WRC, 55:22
2 Chris West/Keith Hounslow, Peugeot 306 Maxi Kit Car, +1:06
3 Wil Owen/Llion Owen, Ford Escort Mk2, +1:22
4 Nigel Mummery/Fiona Scarrett, Ford Focus WRC, +1:32
5 Eric Roberts/Merfyn Williams, Ford Escort Mk2, +4:03
6 Stephen Tilburn/Jack Tilburn, Ford Escort RS2500, +4:23
Pictures courtesy of SMJ Photography