Penrith Rally driver Paul Bird recorded his best ever result on the event when he claimed a battling second place on the Hargreaves Garages Grizedale Stages Rally Saturday.
Driving the MonsterMob VK Silkolene Ford Focus WRC for the first time in over four months, Bird trailed fellow Cumbrian Matthew Wilson [Ford Focus WRC] by just 28 seconds after 45 miles of stages in the scenic Lake District as they got the better of the winner for the past two years, Steve Petch [Hyundai Accent] who finished third.
Not that the day was without drama for the British Superbike team boss and his Northallerton co-driver Ian Windress who endured a number of problems throughout the day. Firstly a misted screen on SS1 cost the pair time and some confusion on the start line of SS3 cost a few more valuable seconds.
A slow puncture also handicapped Bird on the opening leg and the RMS team had to battle with low pressure on the front differential throughout the day but going into the final two stages, Bird held third just a second behind Petch with Wilson holding a half a minute lead.
Getting back into the groove since his last outing on the Manx International Rally in July, and on his first gravel event since the Scottish Rally in June, Bird upped the pace sufficiently on the final twenty miles to wrest runner up spot from Petch and although he beat Wilson by five seconds on the final test in Grizedale South, it wasn't enough to take a win on his local event.
"I really enjoyed that," declared Bird at the Coniston finish. "We had one or two problems during the day and I'd like to think we could have been a bit closer to Matthew if we'd had a clean run but all credit to him, he drove magnificently.
"I was a bit rusty to start off with and I had to learn to drive the car again as I was throwing it around far too much but I'm very happy with the result."