After nine years of waiting, Penrith rally driver Paul Bird finally got his hands on the winner's trophy with a comprehensive start to finish victory on Saturday's Coniston-based Coppermines Grizedale Stages Rally in his native Lake District.
Driving the www.supercasino.com, Vent-Axia and Kick Energy-backed Ford Focus WRC07, Bird and new Scottish co driver Kirsty Riddick won all six stages to emerge victorious by a minute and forty-seven seconds ahead of the Subaru of Alex Allingham.
With changeable weather conditions throughout the day, Bird led by 23 seconds after SS1 in Grizedale South and extended that to 47 seconds after Grizedale North as they headed for first service.
The short and tricky tests in Dunnerdale saw the pair extend their lead to over a minute at second service and despite taking it cautiously through the final two stages in Grizedale, the former ANCRO champion and current boss of the Kawasaki World Superbike Team eased to a comfortable win.
"I'm made up as this was the one rally I was missing from my CV and whilst I've not contested it every year, it has somehow eluded me!" said Bird. "We had no problems at all and Kirsty did a great job, although I kept telling her to shout at me as the intercom wasn't great and she's so softly spoken!
"I was also suffering a bit with an old collarbone injury from my motocross days, but we took it easy in all fairness, especially in the last couple of stages as I didn't want a puncture."
Michael O'Brien meanwhile was third in his Ford Focus WRC followed by the Subaru Impreza of Tristan Pye and the Mitsubishi Lancers of Steve Petch and Paul Cooke.