After a successful couple of outings in the Formula Renault Eurocup recently, it was back to rally actionfor Penrith-born driver Frank Bird who contested the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally at the weekend and came away with another impressive result.
The event comprised a qualifying round of the MSA Protyre Asphalt Rally Championship and as such featured one of the strongest fields Frank and Hexham co-driver Jack Morton had encountered in his very fledgling rally career to date.
It was also the first time for Frank on the daunting and fast military roads complex that comprises Otterburn in Northumberland whereby the recce on Saturday was the first time the pair had made their own pacenotes before a day of action in the Dom Buckley Motorsport/IRS-prepared Ford Focus WRC07, with backing from Frank Bird Poultry, Be Wiser Insurance, Fuchs Silkolene, PBM and Hager.
Straight from the off, Frank was mixing it with some of the big guns and set sixth fastest time on the opening test before going fourth fastest on SS2. Another top four time on SS6 maintained his sixth overall at the halfway point before the pair upped the pace as they got more familiar with the pacenotes and roads of the Scottish borders to move into fifth.
That’s where they stayed until the finish despite a superb top three time on SS10 to cross the finish ramp just half a minute down on former National champion John Stone and claiming a second place in class for good measure.
Frank Bird: “A fifth place on my debut at Otterburn is a fairly good result and I’m happy with thatconsidering how good the opposition was and on some difficult stages. We set some good stage times during the day to show our speed and the car ran great all day. Thanks to the team, to Jack for doing another great job on the notes, and to my dad, PBM and all our other sponsors.”
1 Alan Kirkaldy/Cameron Fair (Ford Fiesta R5)
2 Damian Cole/Andrew Roughead (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0:03
3 Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke (Ford Focus WRC) +0:36
4 John Stone/Michael Gilbey (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:23
5 Frank Bird/Jack Morton (Ford Focus WRC) +1:59
6 Gordon Morrison/Calum Macpherson (Ford Fiesta R5) +2:11
Pictures courtesy of Andrew Hern