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Cumbrian rally driver Paul Bird endured mixed fortunes on his visit to the Caribbean for the Paul Bird Barbados Winter Rally Festival this week where he combined a victory with a retirement on the two events.

Along with co-driver Stuart Loudon in the Dom Buckley Motorsport/IRS-prepared Ford Focus WRC08, with backing from Frank Bird Poultry, Be Wiser Insurance, Hager, WIX Filters, Silkolene and Loco Energy Drink, the Langwathby near Penrith driver took a convincing win in last weekend’s Rally Sprint to set himself up for the BRC Winter Rally which took place over two days this weekend.

Using similar stages to what is used on the SOL Rally Barbados which he has won twice, Bird shot into an early lead on the opening stage by eight seconds on Friday night before breaking a wheel and puncturing on the second run around the Vaucluse stage.

Despite the problem, Bird held the overnight lead, but Saturday dawned wet with torrential rain leaving many of the roads flooded. Increasing his lead on the opening run around Dark Hole 1 ahead of many of the island’s regulars, the weather proved to be the former National Rally champion’s undoing when a watersplash caused the car to suffer clutch failure on Hangman’s 1 which led to retirement.

Paul Bird: “It’s disappointing but the rain today was torrential and there was too much water. It was my fault as I went through a watersplash too fast where water got in and spun the clutch and that Paul Birdwas it. I wouldn’t care but I felt I was really driving well and apart from breaking a wheel on Friday night, we had no problems at all and the car was mega. It was my first time back in Barbados for over two years so to match the likes of Jeffrey Panton was very satisfying and I was confident of beating him. At least we have the trophy from the Rally Sprint to bring home with us and hopefully we can have some better luck in Grizedale next weekend.”

Indeed Bird, the team and the car fly back early next week in readiness for his local event, the Grizedale Stages, which takes place on Saturday 2nd December. Paul has won the rally twice, first in 2009 and the last time in 2014, and will have Jack Morton on the notes in the Lake District.

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Picture courtesy of Robert L. Simmons/Red265 Rally Media

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