Steve Perez has taken his first win of the 2009 season after securing victory in the Malcolm Wilson Rally in Cumbria.
Perez took victory on the event ahead of Rallye Sunseeker victory Will Nicholls and David Wright, with his big rival Paul Bird failing to make it to the finish.
Driving his Ford Focus WRC with Scotsman Kevin Rae on the notes, Perez was doing battle in the back yard of two of his rivals, M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson and arch rival Bird.
Sponsoring both of their respective World Rally and World Superbike teams, Perez was up against Wilson, who was in action in the 2WD Ford Escort, but the main target was Bird, who has won the event three times.
However, the battle failed to materialise when Bird crashed out on SS2 leaving Perez to battle with BTRDA regulars Hugh Hunter and Nicholls. A combination of incorrect tyre choice on the opening stages, coupled with stopping to see if Bird needed assistance following his accident, saw the double Perez drop time but gradually he upped the pace despite the tricky conditions.
Driving conservatively, he chipped away and by the end of the rally's seventh stage in Greystoke, he secured the victory by a handsome 25 seconds as the crews headed back to the Cockermouth finish.
“I'm ecstatic,” he said. “To win this event is fantastic as we sponsor the M-Sport Team from just up the road but this is Birdy's back yard and it's a shame he couldn't muster a challenge today. We stopped to see if he was OK and from then on, we just had to make sure we kept it clean ourselves and to win the event for the first time is brilliant. And what's more, the champagne is going to taste even better tonight as Paul Bird is buying not only for me, but for Malcolm Wilson too!”