Bird retains Christmas Stages title.
Specsavers Christmas Stages Rally -- Sunday 28th December 2003 -- For the second successive year, MonsterMob Ducati superbike team owner Paul Bird swept to an impressive overall victory in the Specsavers Christmas Stages Rally held at Croft Circuit, North Yorkshire.
Driving the latest Hyundai Accent WRC Evo 3.5, the Penrith businessman overcame a time consuming spin on the treacherously icy SS1 to gradually climb the top-quality leaderboard and ended up taking victory by just eight seconds.
Co driven by Larry Carter from Northallerton, the pair were only ninth fastest on the opening stage before upping their game and courtesy of fastest time on SS2, moved up to fourth.
By the lunchtime interval, Bird was in second place, just six seconds down on surprise leader Alex Taylor (Subaru) but as the rally entered the second phase, he hit the front on stage five as a four way scrap emerged for the lead. Fastest on SS6, Bird extended his advantage to six seconds as darkness fell on a bitterly cold day and by the end of the final stage, he'd done enough to secure the winner's trophy yet again:
"It was hard work today and we had to fight all the way. There was never more than a few seconds in it and it could have gone any way. It was a case of not making any silly mistakes and bar one, that was my plan and luckily it paid off" said Bird.
In a repeat of last year's result, second place went to Scotsmen John Bogie and Davie Paterson in their MG Metro 6R4 with local aces Tony Bardy and Reg Smith claiming third in their Nissan Sunny.
Paul's brother Mark, along with co driver Ian Windress from Northallerton impressed on his debut event in the second of the PBM Hyundai Accent's, taking a fine eighth overall and with it, the best novice award.
1. Paul Bird/Larry Carter Hyundai Accent WRC 36m 54s 2. John Bogie/David Paterson MG Metro 6R4 37m 02s 3. Tony Bardy/Reg Smith Nissan Sunny GTI-R 37m 06s 4. Kevin Procter/Mike Gilby Subaru Impreza 37m 20s 5. David Henderson/James Bullock Mitsubishi Lancer 37m 46s 6. Alex Taylor/Ian Barber Subaru Impreza 37m 48s 7. David Turnbull/Ken Bills Subaru WRC 38m 05s 8. Mark Bird/Ian Windress Hyundai Accent WRC 38m 22s 9. Stuart Adamson/John Adamson MG Metro 6R4 39m 17s 10. Bob Dennis/Ron Roughead Subaru Impreza 39m 48s