Penrith rally driver Paul Bird returned to the forests for the first time in nearly a year and was delighted to come away with a runner-up position from today’s Team GMF Wyedean Rally.

Along with Scottish co driver Kirsty Riddick in the Frank Bird Poultry-backed Ford Focus WRC08, shod with DMACK tyres, the pair were contesting the opening round of the BTRDA Rally Series and for the former National Champion, it was his first ever visit to the Forest of Dean Stages.

After a steady start as he reacclimatised himself with the car on gravel and the high speed tests of the rarely used forests, Bird gradually upped the pace as an enthralling battle for the lead was staged between multiple Wyedean winner Andy Burton in his radical Peugeot Cosworth and the Ford Focus of regular BTRDA front runner Hugh Hunter.

Bird went fastest on SS3 and at the end of the fourth stage; only six seconds separated the three leading crews going into the final three tests. However, Burton’s experience proved valuable and he extended his lead to 20 seconds after SS6 but a great drive by Bird saw him stop the clocks fastest on the final stage to claim a superb runner up placing.

At the end of the event, the Kawasaki World Superbike Team boss said: “All things considered, I have to be delighted with second place behind a driver of Andy’s capability and reputation on this event which he has won six times now. It was my first time on gravel since last year’s Malcolm Wilson Rally so I was a bit rusty but doing the Jack Frost Rally at Croft certainly helped. I’d heard a lot about these stages and indeed they were unique and very fast so to set two quickest times was also pleasantly surprising. It is important points in the bank and hopefully Andy and the rest of the BTRDA competitors will be venturing to my neck of the woods for a rematch in three weeks time!”

Indeed Bird’s next outing will be his local Malcolm Wilson Rally in his native Lake District on Saturday 5th March which he has won three times. This year, he’ll be looking to avenge the disappointment of last year when he was leading going into the penultimate stage only for a puncture to force him out and deny him a record breaking fourth victory.

Full results of the GMF Motor Factors Wyedean Forest Rally are available on the event website at www.wyedeanrally.com and details of the forthcoming Malcolm Wilson Rally can be found at www.malcolmwilson.co.uk.

Results

1, Andrew Burton/Robin Kellard, Peugeot Cosworth, 0:43:08
2, Paul Bird/Kirsty Riddick, Ford Focus WRC, 0:43:27
3, Hugh Hunter/Andy Marchbank, Ford Focus WRC, 0:43:38
4, David Wright/Michael Wilkinson, Mitsubishi Evo9, 0:44:13
5, Roger Chilman/Andrew Sankey, Subaru Impreza S9, 0:44:16
6, Nik Elsmore/Paul Spooner, Mitsubishi Evo9, 0:44:20
7, Tom Cave/Craig Parry, Mitsubishi Evo10, 0:44:45
8, Roger Duckworth/Mark Broomfield, Subaru Impreza WRC, 0:44:47
9, Nigel Griffiths/Jon Scott, Subaru Impreza, 0:45:23
10, Harry Hunt/Steve McPhee, Mitsubishi Evo9, 0:45:52

Picture attached courtesy of Simon Clarke. Paul Bird and Kirsty Riddick on their way to second place in today’s Team GMF Wyedean Rally.

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