PENRITH rally driver Paul Bird claimed victory in the Malcolm Wilson Rally to surge ahead in the 2014 REIS BTRDA Rally Championship – equaling fellow Cumbrian Bill Dobie's record of four outright victories.
Securing 30 championship points, Bird and Welsh co-driver Aled Davies built on their win at the Legend Fires North West Stages Rally last month.
The 2005 National Champion was made to work for his win despite setting fastest times on the opening four stages to hold a handy 19 second advantage at the first service halt.
After increasing his advantage to 31 seconds at the end of SS5 before dropping five seconds in the second run through Grizedale North, he nearly came unstuck heading into the penultimate stage.
The notorious Grizedale stages and the 7.8 mile Grizedale South test has been his bogey forest in recent years with history coming close to repeating itself once more.
Pushing as hard as he could, Bird slid wide on a corner at high speed and ended up in the undergrowth before emerging unscathed with a loss of ten seconds.
The final stage in Greystoke posed no such problems and he arrived at the Rheged finish 13 seconds to the good, adding to previous victories in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
Burton in Kendal’s Wayne Sisson, alongside co-driver Neil Shanks, finished ninth in his Mitsubishi Evo 9 with a time of 49.19 to claim 22 championship points.
“I was happy enough with my finishing position,” he said. “I’ve not done anything since last September and if somebody had offered me a top ten finish I would have taken it.
“There were four world rally cars in front and regardless of what car you’re in you can’t compete with that unless you’re in a world rally car yourself.
“Grizedale is very challenging and it’s always nice to get through. The road is very technical and there are not many straights.
“It’s a case of coming out of one corner and into another – it requires a lot of concentration.”