Solid Start to Championship for Bird
Paul Bird and Aled Davies began their attack for the BTRDA Championship in fine style in the Forest of Dean in Wales at the Wyedean Forest Rally.
Hundreds of spectators braved the wind and rain to line the stages to watch Bird along with last years champion Euan Thorburn, five time Scottish Champion David Bogie and last years runner up Stephen Petch all fight it out for the win. All drivers were driving Ford Focus WRC’s. Thorburn in the oldest, a 2001 specification. Bogie’s a year newer and Petch and Bird in the newer shaped.
Paul has focused mainly on Tarmac for the last couple of years with only the odd gravel event. Dropping 30 seconds on the first 2 stages didn’t dishearten him though. On SS1 Petch had gone off and blocked the road and with the Fuchs Titan and Mac Tools backed Focus of Bird and Davies next on the road they dropped 20 seconds in getting passed. Then a stall at a hairpin on Stage 2 dropped him further away from the leaders Bogie and Thorburn. Bogie was fastest on both stages beating Thorburn by 9 and then 2 seconds.
After a quick check over by the management crews the cars headed for another 2 stages before the main service. Bad luck struck for Thorburn on the third though, his Focus developed a misfire and he lost 5 minutes. He got through SS4 and back to service but by now the Focus’ misfire was getting worse and the team decided it couldn’t get fixed for the remaining stages. This propelled Bird up to a comfortable 2nd overall and he was within touching distance of Bogie on both SS3 and SS4.
The midday service was an hour long and Bird was comfortably ahead of 3rd place so decided a test of a different compound of tyre for the next 2 stages. The test of the tyre compound was very successful on stage 5 and 6. Although he was joint fastest through the short 2 mile stage he dropped 19seconds to Bogie on SS6. Even though the time was not as close to Bogie as Paul would like it gave him some good knowledge of what the tyres will do in these weather conditions which could be very vital later in the year.
Bogie won the last stage to confirm his clean sweep of stage wins with the Focus WRC which has had it’s engine rebuilt by Dom Buckley Motorsport. ‘Birdy’ was second fastest to claim 2nd overall on round 1. A great drive with some good knowledge but also great confidence which will be taken into the next round, Paul’s home event ‘The Malcolm Wilson Rally’