After last year's inaugural victory after many years of trying which included finishing runner-up twice and another two times in third place, Cumbrian rally driver Paul Bird successfully defended his title in emphatic style on this weekend's SOL Rally Barbados with another stunning drive on the Caribbean island.
Driving the MinxFlix.com, Fuchs Titan, Rapid Solicitors and Kick Energy-backed, Pirelli-shod FBP Ford Focus WRC08 along with Welsh co-driver Aled Davies, Bird from Langwathby followed up his second place on the previous weekend's Scotiabank King of the Hill which was the final shakedown before the Caribbean's biggest annual international motorsport event.
With mixed weather conditions prevalent going into SOL Rally Barbados, Bird set out his intentions early with fastest time on the opening stage on Saturday to take the lead and was never headed throughout the event as he gradually built and maintained a lead ahead of the quality international field.
Fastest on eight and second fastest on the remaining three stages, the 2005 MSA ANCRO National Rally champion held a 28.5 second lead after the first day in the Dom Buckley Motorsport-prepared car.
Sunday's remaining ten stages saw Bird immediately into his groove and courtesy of fastest time on the day's opening test, he stretched the lead to over 30 seconds and from there, managed the lead perfectly taking three more fastest times during the latter stages and arriving at the finish with a winning margin of 29.3 seconds to claim his second successive victory on his favourite event.
The latest success added to the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki British Superbike and PBM MotoGP team boss's recent victories on the Manx National Rally and North West Stages to continue his good form this year.
Paul Bird: "After winning the event last year, I wanted a taste of that again so I was determined to repeat my victory. We had a good run and had no major issues with the car and for once, I didn't make too many mistakes and it all came together perfectly. This is a fantastic event and I'm privileged to win it but you don't come all this way to finish second. Thanks to Aled for another great job and to the team also for their efforts with the car and also the organisers and the thousands of fans, I've never seen so many people out watching. It's a shame my old mate Steve Perez had problems as I would have liked to have beaten him fair and square but given he's had an expensive time with his car problems this weekend, I'll try to go easy on him with the bar bill tonight!"
1. Paul Bird ENG/Aled Davies - WAL Ford Focus WRC08 - 1:00:31.75
2. Jeffrey Panton JAM/Michael Fennell - JAM Ford Focus WRC06 - 1:00:56.29
3. Roger Skeete BAR/Louis Venezia BAR Subaru Impreza WRC - 1:01:28.15
4. Neil Armstrong BAR/Barry Ward - BAR Suzuki SX4 WRC - 1:02:11.88
5. Roger Duckworth ENG/Alun Cook - WAL Subaru Impreza WRC - 1:03:01.01
6. Roger Hill BAR/Graham Gittens - BAR Toyota Corolla WRC - 1:03:27.50
7. Kevin Procter ENG/Dave Bellerby - ENG Subaru Impreza WRC - 1:03:35.85
8. Ian Warren BAR/Robert Warren - BAR Suzuki Swift - 1:03:35.92
9. Josh Read BAR/Mark Jordan - BAR Toyota Starlet - 1:03:45.62
10. Roger Mayers BAR/Barry Mayers - BAR Toyota Starlet - 1:04:01.84