Penrith rally driver Paul Bird saw his hopes of a record breaking fourth win on the Malcolm Wilson Rally disappear when he could only manage a fourth placed finish on his local event in the Lake District today.

Along with Scottish co driver Kirsty Riddick, the Frank Bird Poultry Ltd-sponsored and D-Mack tyres-shod Ford Focus WRC pairing were hopeful of a good result on their home round of the Silverstone Competition Tyres BTRDA Rally Series following a fine second place on the opening round at the Wyedean Rally last month.

With dry conditions in the forests around Keswick and Ambleside, Bird was only sixth fastest through the opening Comb stage before dropping even more time in Hobcarton before recovering a little in Greystoke to hold fourth place at Penrith Truckstop service, 30 seconds down on leader Hugh Hunter (Ford Focus).

Into the two Grizedale tests which saw the demise of the Kawasaki World Superbike team boss when leading last year, and despite charging hard, Bird still couldn’t make inroads into the leaders and arrived back at second service in Penrith some 38 seconds adrift of Andy Burton’s Peugeot Cosworth now in the lead.

With a few adjustments made to the Dom Buckley-prepared car, Bird headed off to the final two stages in Greystoke and Wythop hoping he could at least make the podium but it wasn’t to be and he arrived back at the Cockermouth finish in fourth position and unable to add to his victories in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Despite the result, the good news is that Bird and Riddick hold second place in the championship table going into the third round which takes place on April 16th with The Somerset Stages based in Minehead.

Paul Bird: “No excuses! I just simply didn’t drive well enough today and against this level of competition, that’s what happens. There was nothing wrong with the car, everything was absolutely fine, it was down to the driver today and the harder I tried the more mistakes I made and lost even more time. You get days like this and after two retirements in the past two years on this event, I’m pleased to see the finish this year. I’ll take consolation in that we are still second in the championship and go to Somerset knowing I seriously have to up my game if I’m to win this championship. Today was a setback, but it’s certainly not over yet.”

Result

1, Andrew Burton/Robin Kellard – Peugeot Cosworth – 0:49:10
2, Roger Chilman/Andrew Sankey – Subaru Impreza – 0:49:17
3, Charlie Payne/Craig Thorley – Ford Focus WRC – 0:49:38
4, Paul Bird/Kirsty Riddick – Ford Focus WRC – 0:49:50
5, David Howells/Julian Wilkinson – Subaru Impreza – 0:51:22
6, Tom Cave/Craig Parry – Subaru Impreza – 0:51:24
7, Tom Naughton/Horace Saville – Mitsubishi Evo 9 – 0:51:38
8, Stephen Petch/John Richardson – Mitsubishi Evo 9 – 0:51:51
9, Jamie Anderson/Ella Flynn – Mitsubishi Evo 9 – 0:52:04
10, Richard Cook/Edwin Cook – Subaru Impreza – 0:52:19

Picture attached courtesy of Ian Hardy www.ianhardy.net: Paul Bird and Kirsty Riddick in action on today’s Malcolm Wilson Rally.

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