Penrith rally driver Paul Bird got his 2018 season off to a great start by claiming maximum points in the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series following the Llandudno-based Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally today.
Along with Hexham co-driver Jack Morton in the Dom Buckley Motorsport/IRS-prepared Ford Focus WRC08, with backing from Frank Bird Poultry, Be Wiser Insurance, Hager, Fuchs Titan Race and Loco Energy Drink, Bird, from Langwathby village, finished second behind rally winners Ollie Mellors/Max Freeman (Proton), but who are not registered for the championship.
Indeed, it was a narrow affair all day long in the classic forests of North Wales with less than ten seconds separating 2003 Cambrian Rally winner and 2005 National Champion Bird from Mellors for most of the day.
Fourth fastest on the opening stage, Bird set fastest time on SS2 to move to within seven seconds of Mellors whereby the pair traded seconds for the next couple of stages. The British Superbike team boss slashed the gap to just four seconds after the penultimate test in SS6 but decided that safe points were the order of the day after a run of recent bad luck.
A steady drive through the final test saw Bird end up just six seconds adrift of Mellors with defending champions Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson in third some 24 seconds down.
Paul Bird: “I’m happy with maximum points as the stages today were hard work and didn’t really suit me. The entry list was very strong too, so I’m especially pleased with the result. We chose the wrong tyre compound for the last three stages as they were too soft so rather than risk it all on the last stage, I decided to roll it off and get some solid points on the board as there was no point pushing. Everything went to plan; the car was great with no dramas and thanks to the team for doing another great job. Hopefully we can carry the momentum into the next round.”
Indeed, Paul doesn’t have long to wait for the second round which takes place in his native Lake District in just two weeks’ time with the Cockermouth-based Malcolm Wilson Rally. Having won the event on a record-equalling four occasions (2004, 2006, 2007, 2014), Bird is hoping to move one clear of fellow Cumbrian Bill Dobie who also has four wins to his credit.
Picture courtesy of James Ward/Chicane Media