Penrith rally driver Paul Bird overcame a number of dramas to win today’s Procter’s Luxury Coaches Riponian Stages Rally before dashing off straight from the finish to be at the bedside of his terminally ill mother.

Along with Scottish co driver Kirsty Riddick, the pair ended the 45-mile event nearly a minute and a half to the good over second placed Tony Thompson and Jon Dunning (Mitsubishi) after wintry conditions played havoc with tyre choice in the North Yorkshire forests.

Holding second place behind local aces Kevin Procter and Dave Bellerby’s Subaru WRC at first service after six stages, the Rockstar Energy, and Vent-Axia backed Ford Focus WRC08 pair upped the pace on the second loop and when Procter crashed out in Wass 2, Bird’s task was made so much easier.

Controlling the lead and with the stages clearing of snow, Bird eased off towards the end to claim a debut victory on Ripon Motor Sport Club’s flagship event and in doing so, claimed his third successive victory in as many months adding the Coppermines Grizedale Stages in December and last month’s Cartersport Jack Frost Stages Rally to his latest quarry.

However, just before he could celebrate his latest win, there was a small error of a dubious eight-minute time penalty which was attributed to him on the final stage but Clerk of the Course Alan Hill and his team soon had the problem resolved and the Kawasaki World Superbike Racing Team boss was declared the winner.

“My mum’s very poorly now and I was in two minds as to whether to contest the event but I know that she would have wanted me to so this one’s for her. Things aren’t good at all so I’d like to dedicate this to her for everything she’s done for me. It was a really tough rally and it was a lottery as far as tyre choice was concerned. I was a passenger more often than not during the first loop and then we made a wrong tyre choice but we made it in the end. Hard luck to Kevin who would have made it interesting if he’d kept going but apart from that awkward marshal on the final stage arrival, I’d like to say thanks to everyone for putting on a great little event. The car ran faultlessly and thanks to the team, we’ll see if we can make it four out of four on Rallye Sunseeker in two weeks’ time,” said Bird afterwards.

1, Paul Bird/Kirsty Riddick – Ford Focus WRC08 – 42:07
2, Tony Thompson/Jon Dunning – Mitsubishi Evo 9 – 43:36
3, Jonny Milner/Ian Windress – Toyota Corolla WRC – 43:44
4, Miles Johnston/Ian Bevan – Mitsubishi Evo 8 – 44:53
5, Jeff McNeil/Fred Roberts – Subaru Impreza – 45:11
6, Reay MacKay/Robert MacDonald – Mitsubishi – 46:24
7, Stephen Petch/John Richardson – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo – 46:51
8, Curly Haigh/Sally Peacock – Ford Escort MK1 – 47:02
9, Keith Turner/Steve Ward – Subaru Impreza – 47:12
10, Nick Cook/Neil Colls – Ford Escort MK1 – 47:34

Picture attached courtesy of Ian Hardy ( Paul Bird and Kirsty Riddick on their way to winning the Procter’s Luxury Coaches Riponian Stages Rally.



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