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After two years away from the sport, Cumbrian rally driver Paul Bird returned to the forest stages in style when he took a superb podium finish on today’s Grampian Forest Rally.Paul Bird

Bird, from Langwathby near Penrith in Cumbria, along with co-driver Stuart Loudon were contesting the Stonehaven and DMC-organised event for the first time and following a test in the Lake District last week, were hopeful of a good showing.

In the Dom Buckley-prepared Ford Focus WRC07, with backing from Frank Bird Poultry, Be Wiser Insurance, Hager, WIX Filters, Silkolene and Loco Energy, the pair made a steady start to the event, setting eighth fastest time on the opening six-mile test.

Within a couple of stages, the 2005 ANCRO National Rally champion was up to fifth overall before moving into the top three on SS4. There Birdy remained as he traded blows with a host of regulars in the Scottish Rally Championship to come home in third place overall behind the more modern machinery of David Bogie and Euan Thorburn.

Paul Bird: “Not bad for a return after a couple of years out! I struggled a bit on the opening two Paul Birdstages as I’ve never used the types of pacenotes supplied but it all started to fall into place quickly. Stuart was brilliant on the notes and the car ran faultlessly as ever. It was important to get a finish with no dramas and I was pleasantly surprised how fast the pace was, things have certainly moved on. Thanks to everyone for their support, it’s been overwhelming and I’m already looking forward to the next event.”

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Pictures courtesy of James Ward/Chicane Media and Eddie Kelly.

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