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Former national rally champion Paul Bird overcame an emotional week to record a fifth place finish on today’s Bournemouth-based Rallye Sunseeker.

Bird, from Penrith, lost his mother Isabel to cancer last week but following Thursday’s well attended funeral he vowed to contest the opening round of the 2010 MSA Gravel Rally Championship.

Along with Scottish co driver Kirsty Riddick, who was suffering from suspected glandular fever, the Rockstar Energy, and Vent-Axia pairing suffered a spin on the opening stage and their problems were compounded two stages later when they lost a minute after going off the road.

Holding sixth position, the Kawasaki Superbike racing team boss clawed back some time in the loop of stages around Wareham at half distance to move into contention but couldn’t quite do enough to reduce the deficit to fourth placed Roger Duckworth and Mark Broomfield.  As a result Bird had to settle for fifth place overall on the event and with it, fourth place points in the ANCRO-organised series.

Paul Bird:  “It’s been a tough week and I wondered if I should do the event but I’m glad I did.  I couldn’t concentrate properly but that’s not an excuse.  I just made too many mistakes early on and from that point we were playing catch up.  Kirsty’s not been too well today and that’s not helped our cause but I’ll chill out tonight and have a few beers and look forward to next weekend’s Malcolm Wilson Rally.”

Bird will be in action on the Cockermouth-based event next Saturday where he is looking to make it an historic fourth win on his home rally.

Rallye Sunseeker Result
1, Marcus Dodd/Andrew Bargery – Hyundai Accent WRC – 55:02.1
2, Andrew Burton/Robin Kellard – Peugeot Cosworth – 55:35.8
3, Steve Perez/Paul Spooner – Ford Focus WRC07 – 55:48.8
4, Roger Duckworth/Mark Broomfield – Subaru Impreza WRC – 56:17.5
5, Paul Bird/Kirsty Riddick – Ford Focus WRC08 – 56:46.3
6, Jonny Milner/Ian Windress – Toyota Corolla WRC – 57:51.6
7, Anthony Willmington/Andrew White – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6 – 58:21.3
8, Dave Weston Jnr/Ieuan Thomas – Subaru Impreza – 59:09.0
9, Jonathan Greer/Brian Crawford – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9 – 59:40.4
10, Stephen Petch/John Richardson – Hyundai Accent WRC – 1:00.23.5

2010 MSA Gravel Rally Championship Standings after Round One (Provisional)
1, Marcus Dodd 25pts
2, Steve Perez 22pts
3, Roger Duckworth 20pts
4, Paul Bird 19pts
5, Jonny Milner 18pts
6, Stephen Petch 17pts

Picture courtesy of :  Paul Bird and Kirsty Riddick in action on today’s Rallye Sunseeker in their Ford Focus WRC08.

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