Penrith rally driver Paul Bird returned to his local Croft circuit on Sunday and successfully defended the Cartersport Jack Frost Stages Rally title which he won for the first time twelve months ago.

Along with Scottish co-driver Kirsty Riddick, the pair finished over two minutes ahead of their nearest rivals after the eight stages around the North Yorkshire track but their day wasn't with out incident which started on the opening stage of the Darlington and District Motor Club event.

Driving the www.supercasino.com, Vent-Axia and Kick Energy-backed Ford Focus WRC08, the former national rally champion had a big overshoot on the day's opening stage and was only second overall before grabbing the lead on the next stage. However, a major spin, the result of a broken driveshaft, saw Bird limp the car out of SS3 whereby the Dom Buckley Motorsport Team set to work in rectifying the problem.

Bird was fastest on SS4 and but for a minor problem on the next stage would have been fastest on there too but he needn't have worried as he set fastest time on the final three stages to claim an easy victory.

"After recent events it was great to get back in the rally car and get rid of some pent up aggression and frustration and I'm delighted to win again," said Bird.

"The club have done a wonderful job in getting the event on and made the stages very challenging but we had our fair share of problems too and we were lucky to get to the finish. It was good to see a lot of people again and it's been a good shakedown for Rallye Sunseeker and the Malcolm Wilson Rally which I intend on contesting next."

For the record, Richard Cook took the runners-up spot in his Mitsubishi Evo 9, followed by Chris Wise's MG Metro 6R4 and Martyn Tinker's Lotus Exige. John Gaskin and Andy Davison rounded out the top six.

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