Fresh from his podium success in Scotland last month following two years away from the sport, Cumbrian rally driver Paul Bird got back to winning ways when he took a convincing victory on today’s Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages Rally based in Shropshire.
Bird, from Langwathby near Penrith in Cumbria, along with Welsh co-driver Jamie Edwards from Wrexham were contesting the penultimate round of the Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series which comprised the majority of stages in and around the Radnor forest complex in mid-Wales and saw a strong field assembled for the event.
In the Dom Buckley Motorsport/IRS-prepared Ford Focus WRC07, with backing from Frank Bird Poultry, Be Wiser Insurance, Hager, WIX Filters, Silkolene and Loco Energy Drink, the pair made a great start to the event, setting second fastest time on the opening 8.6-mile test.
Joint fastest time on SS2 saw the 2005 ANCRO National Rally champion locked in battle with Jamie Anderson (Mitsubishi) but following his demise on SS3, Bird hit the front from where he was never headed.
An eight second advantage after SS3 was increased to 27 seconds after a storming run through Haye Park (SS4) and after dropping a few seconds to Callum Black in SS5, Bird beat the bogey on the final test in Radnor to seal the win.
At the Ludlow racecourse finish, the winning margin was 31 seconds over Black with newly-crowned BTRDA champion Stephen Petch finishing third and the result meant a second Woodpecker victory for the British Superbike team boss after winning the 2014 event.
Paul Bird: “I’m absolutely over the moon with this result as I wasn’t sure what the pace would be like but it was just as fast as I expected. I was really nervous beforehand which wasn’t like me but we were soon into our stride and I felt I was driving good. Jamie did a fantastic job on the notes and really pushed me on which is what I need so all credit to him and to Neil Buckley and the team, the car never missed a beat all day. I was humbled by the amount of people who came up to me and welcomed me back to the stages, the support was phenomenal, so thanks to everyone for that. It’s a shame Jamie’s car broke as we would have had a great battle and well done to Stephen for winning the title. He and the SGP team deserve that as they have worked so hard over the years. I’m not sure when I’m out next as the rallying has to take a back seat with my team’s British Superbike Championship commitments and that of my son Frank’s Formula Renault Eurocup series, but I hope to fit in a couple more events before the end of the year if possible.”
Pictures courtesy of James Ward/Chicane Media