Seventeen years after his father Paul took the second of his two victories, Penrith-born Frank Birdadded his name to the winners’ trophy when he took a resounding victory as Northallerton AC hosted the annual Swift Signs & Shirts Christmas Stages Rally at Croft Circuit today.
Driving the Dom Buckley Motorsport-prepared Ford Focus WRC07, with backing from Frank Bird Poultry, Hager and PBM, and fresh from winning at Knockhill the previous weekend, the 20-year-old Cumbrian along with Hexham co-driver Jack Morton saw off the challenge of eight-times winner Kevin Procter (Ford Fiesta) with Scottish marauders Gordon Morrison and Ed Kelly (Ford Fiesta R5) taking third.
Not that it was all plain sailing for Bird as he was one of a number of crews hit with a ten second penalty for a chicane infringement on the icy opening stage but from SS2 onwards he was never headed, winning all the remaining stages with ease.
After two stages, Bird led by eight seconds and by half distance, his lead was 21 seconds. The Cumbrian part-time single seater racer continued to stamp his authority into the afternoon and by SS6, his advantage was at 39 seconds but rather than ease off, he pressed home his superiority as darkness fell to cross the finish ramp 52 seconds ahead of runner-up Procter.
Frank Bird: “What a fantastic way to end my first year in the sport with a very special victory bybecoming the first father and son to win the Christmas Stages. Apart from the penalty on SS1, when I locked up going into one of the chicanes, we had a good run although we needed to keep an eye on the oil pressure for the final couple of stages. Thanks to the organisers for putting on a brilliant event and to the Buckley Motorsport team for another wonderful job on the car. Thanks to Jack and of course my dad and our sponsors for all their help and support. Merry Christmas everyone!”
Pictures courtesy of Chicane Media.