Following on from some superb performances on asphalt in recent months, Penrith-born driver Frank Bird took to the gravel stages this weekend and came away with a stunning victory on the Greystoke Stages Rally.

Contesting the west Cumbria and Eden Valley Motor Club-organised event in the M-Sport-owned forest near Penrith, the 19-year-old Cumbrian, alongside Hexham co-driver Jack Morton in the Dom Buckley Motorsport/IRS-prepared Ford Focus WRC07, were awarded a notional time on the opening stage after stopping to assist another competitor who had gone off.

But from SS2 onwards, despite his inexperience on the loose, Bird drove like a veteran and by the end of the third stage, amazingly took the lead in what was a quality field. 

With fastest times set on the final three stages, Bird emerged as winner by 56 seconds to add to his rapidly growing reputation.

Bird said: “It’s been a great day at the Greystoke Stages. 

“I was a bit nervous beforehand because it was my first time ever on gravel.

“Thanks to my co-driver Jack, and the team that gave me a great car which gave me confidence to get used to the conditions and get quicker each stage. 

“Overall, I’ve had a brilliant day so thanks to all the sponsors, the team, Jack and my dad. I hope to be out again soon.”

Paul Bird, PBM team owner and Frank's dad, said: “Considering it was his first time on gravel, Frank has done magnificently. 

“He’s listened to advice, has driven sensibly and not put a foot wrong to come away with a win is fantastic. 

“There was a lot of pressure on him, but he’s handled it superbly and has driven smoothly like you need to do in a forest.”