Penrith driver Paul Bird made a successful start to his annual sortie to the Caribbean when he won the opening event of the 2012 SOL Rally Barbados.
After finishing third in 2010 and then runner-up last year, the British Superbike and MotoGP team boss made it third time lucky when he took victory in the King of The Hill contest which comprised a 3.4-km stage lined almost its full length with over 5000 spectators.
Driving the Fuchs Titan, Rapid Solicitors and Kick Energy-backed Frank Bird Poultry Ford Focus WRC08, Bird and Scottish co driver Kirsty Riddick, became the first foreign crew to lift the title and in doing so, saw off a host of top local drivers plus some of his British Championship rivals too.
Friend and rival Steve Perez, along with Welsh co driver Paul Spooner finished in sixth in their Ford Focus WRC whilst another former National Champion, Roger Duckworth and co driver Garry Digger finished in seventh in their Subaru Impreza WRC.
Paul Bird: “We tried some new settings using suspension we hadn’t used since Rally Spain in 2009 when we did a WRC round. As a result, the car was quicker and firmer as we tackled the slippy, bumpy Bajan tarmac. Rallying is for fun for me, though it gets more serious once the helmet goes on, and I probably still have a bit left in the tank for next weekend. We’ve never won Rally Barbados but we’ve now won King of the Hill so it’s good for confidence going into next weekend’s main event.”
1 Paul Bird/Kirsty Riddick (Ford Focus WRC08) 1m 49.18s
2 Roger Skeete/Louis Venezia (Subaru Impreza WRC S12) 1m 50.26s
3 John Powell//Nicholas Telfer (Subaru Impreza WRC S14) 1m 50.42s
4 Jeffrey Panton/Michael Fennell Jnr (Ford Focus WRC06) 1m 51.24s
5 Sean Gill/Michael Cummins (Suzuki SX4 WRC) 1m 51.50s
6 Steve Perez/Paul Spooner (Ford Focus WRC07) 1m 52.29s
7 Roger Duckworth/Gary Digger (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1m 53.38s
8 Neil Armstrong/Barry Ward (Toyota Starlet) 1m 53.53s
9 Dean Serrao/Josh Delmas (Subaru Impreza WRC S9) 1m 55.83s
10 Brett Clarke/Garry Clarke (Citroen C2 S1600) 1m 55.86s etc
Picture Credit: Courtesy of Sean Chandler www.vtcaribbean.com