2003 will be a hectic year for MonsterMob Ducati team owner Paul Bird with the news that as well as his existing BSB commitments, he will be contesting a full national rally programme throughout the season.

Following on from a couple of years hiring rally cars to contest selected events, the Penrith businessman has just taken delivery of a specially prepared works Hyundai Accent World Rally Car in which he hopes to contest the Kumho Tyres ANCRO Championship which gets underway in February, as well as selected other events.

"I've decided to take the plunge and give it a go! After driving Group N cars for a couple of years, I had the urge to compete in something more powerful and considered building an Escort WRC but when the opportunity to buy the Hyundai came along, I reckoned it would be the better option," said the man who masterminded the team's successful 2002 British Superbike Championship campaign with Steve Hislop as well as guiding prot?g? Stuart Easton to the National Supersport crown.

Not that the former triple Irish Supermoto Champion is curtailing his trackside activities in BSB in any form whatsoever, having recently signed up-and-coming star Shane Byrne to contest the 2003 British Superbike Championship whilst Easton will start his fourth year with the team with the aim of defending his title.

The team has just returned from Italy having collected the pair of brand new Ducati 998 F02's which have recently been built to the same specification which took Troy Bayliss to runner up spot in the World Superbike Championship and are confident Byrne can retain the team's title.

"Most of the ANCRO rounds don't clash with BSB but if they do, I'll have to see who's doing best in mine, Shakey's or Stuart's respective championships to see what gets priority! The good thing is most rallies are on a Saturday which minimises any potential clashes," said Bird.

The car is expected to run with the team's long term sponsor MonsterMob's livery but another potential sponsor is in negotiation with Bird and it could be their brand appears on the car also.

Bird will test the car at Croft next week before contesting the Specsavers Christmas Stages Rally on Sunday 29th December at the North Yorkshire circuit with the team's Press & PR Manager Larry Carter as co-driver.

Thereafter Bird is likely to contest the Kall Kwik Rally in February prior to the opening round of the ANCRO series which is scheduled to get underway in Bournemouth later that month. He will also contest his home event, The Malcolm Wilson Rally, in the Lake District along with the Pirelli British Rally Championship round in April, based on Tyneside.

Bird and Carter finished 40th overall on the Network Q Rally of Great Britain in 2001 in a Group N Subaru, the same year as they claimed runner up spot in the ANECCC Stage Rally Championship.



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