Cumbrian businessman and Superbike team owner Paul Bird has died, it has been announced.

Mr Bird, who was 56, has passed away after a short illness.

His death was announced in a statement by his company, Paul Bird Motorsport.

Mr Bird, a former rally driver and motocross rider, was the team owner.

His Langwathby-based teams enjoyed huge success over the years and tributes have been paid today.

A statement said: "The Bennetts British Superbike Championship is deeply saddened to announce the sudden passing of Paul Bird, the Team Owner of Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM), the series’ most successful team. 

"Paul died earlier today at the age of 56 following a short time in hospital with illness. 

"Paul’s family are requesting privacy during this time."

Mr Bird's global motorsport operation has won a series of titles on two and four wheels.

Currently its teams include the BeerMonster Ducati superbike team, while Mr Bird's son Frank is a top rally driver.