After nine years of waiting, Kawasaki World Superbike Team boss 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 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."
Bird will next be in action on the Specsavers Christmas Stages Rally, which takes place on Saturday January 2 at Croft Circuit, where he is looking to add to the victories he took in 2002 and 2003.