Paul Bird storms to North-West Stages Rally victory

by Joshua Close

MCE British Superbike team owner, Paul Bird has made it a hat-trick of victories in the annual Legend North West Stages Rally.

The Cumbrian in his Ford Focus WRC07, won by two minutes 16 seconds after winning all six of the final stages.

The 17th edition of the event had started badly for Bird and his Newcastle-based co-driver, Andrew Roughead, when they made the decision to go out on ice tyres in the cool, dry conditions.

The Subaru of Simon Bowen led the first couple of stages around Weeton Camp but this was short-lived as Bird took the lead on the Blackpool Promenade.

Going into Saturday Bird had a nine-second lead, which was soon increased to 35 seconds after a strong performance in the opening loop.

Bird struggled with the Docks stages of the event and after gaining a stage maximum, his lead was cut to just six seconds.

This set-back seemed to motivate Bird even more and he went on to post five fastest times in the next seven stages to increase his lead to over a minute.

Bird continued to dominate the remainder of the Rally and took victory ahead of Tony Bardy’s Nissan Sunny Gti-R.

Following the event, Bird said: “ That was hard work but to come away with a third win on the trot is fantastic and I’m pleased with how I drove. It was forecast below freezing on Friday night so we went with ice tyres on the opening stages, which proved to be a wrong choice as I should have been on inters.

“Saturday was fine, it was a bit of a stop and start day and I made it hard work for myself when I wrong slotted on SS10 and lost a big chunk of my lead, but I hold my hands up to that. From there, I knew we had the pace to win the event so it was a case of being fast but careful.

“I’m feeling confident after today so will do a test in mid-week before next weekend’s Wyedean Rally. It’s about time I won one of these championships as I’m fed up of being the bridesmaid!”

In total Bird picked up an impressive 17 stage wins and after three successive victories, he is now the man to beat in the Rally event.

Next up for the team owner is the opening round of the 2015 BTRDA Rally Series, which kicks-off with the Weir Engineering Wyedean Forest Rally next weekend.

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