Cumbrian rally driver Paul Bird’s bid for the 2014 REIS BTRDA Rally Series fell painfully short as he missed out on the title by the narrowest of margins following this weekend’s Cambrian Rally.
Needing to beat title rival Steve Perez to guarantee his second national title, the Langwathby driver claimed third place on the final round, 12 seconds adrift of Perez in second leaving them both tied on points.
Unable to be separated with three wins, two second places and a third place apiece out of the six allocated rounds to score, the result was decided in favour of Perez with his eighth place on the Plains Rally meaning Bird was left to claim runner-up place.
The day started with drama for the MotoGP and British Superbike Championship team boss who won the event back in 2003. On the very first stage, he dropped over a minute due to going off meaning he and Welsh co-driver Aled Davies were going to have to play catch up over the remaining seven stages.
What followed was one of the greatest drives of his career as he set about reducing the deficit and with five fastest stage times and two second fastest times, the 2005 ANCRO National Champion brought the Rubis Petroleum, Cockspur Rum, Fuchs Titan Race, Mac Tools-backed and Dom Buckley Motorsport-prepared Ford Focus WRC07 home just a dozen seconds behind Perez who, in turn, followed home the winners David Weston and Kirsty Riddick (Subaru).
Paul Bird: “Naturally I’m disappointed, but these things happen. I always said I was going out to win and I certainly went out trying. It was right at the end of the first stage and a spectator was stood on the outside of a corner and they caught my eye and next thing I knew I was in a ditch. My pace was good after that and I proved that today but fair play to Steve, he did what he needed to do and he’s champion. Now I want to concentrate on Shakey trying to win the British Superbike title at Brands Hatch today.”