Like father, like son - Penrith’s Frank Bird secured victory at last weekend’s Christmas Stages Rally; 17 years after father Paul claimed his second of two victories at the Croft-based event.

Taking place at the famous Croft Circuit last Sunday, the event consisted of eight timed stages and has a reputation for attracting large entries as the traditional end of the season.

All of the speed tests are held within the perimeters of the circuit, and with the cars running at 30 second intervals there is constant action – making the rally a firm favourite with spectators too.

Top entries at this year’s event included eight-time winner Kevin Procter and co-driver Patrick Walsh who were behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta S2000 Turbo – but Bird wasn’t fazed by the competition.

Partnered by regular co-driver Jack Morton, the 20-year-old Cumbrian piloted his Ford Focus RS WRC to a convincing victory – bettering the field by close to a minute and securing his second win in as many weekends.

It wasn’t all plain sailing as Bird and Morton were one of a number of crews to be hit with a ten second penalty for chicane infringements on the opening speed test – caught out by ice which made for some tricky conditions!

But from the second stage onwards, they were never beaten and proved a class act by winning all of the remaining speed tests with ease.

After two stages the Cumbrian held an eight-second lead, and by half-distance that lead was up to 21 seconds.

The single-seater racer continued to stamp his authority into the afternoon and by the sixth stage his advantage was up to an impressive 39 seconds.

But rather than ease off as darkness fell for the final two speed tests, he pressed home his superiority and crossed the finish ramp 52 seconds ahead of Kevin Procter in second place.

“What a fantastic way to end my first year in the sport,” said Bird Junior after the event.

“This was a very special victory for me and my Dad, because it means we become the first father and son to win the Christmas Stages Rally!

“Apart from the penalty on the first stage where I locked up going into one of the chicanes, we had a really good run.

“We needed to keep an eye on the oil pressure for the final couple of stages, but all in all everything was good,” he concluded.

“Thanks to the organisers for putting on a brilliant event and to the Dom Buckley Motorsport team for another wonderful job on the car.

“Thanks to Jack and of course my dad and our sponsors for all their help and support – and Merry Christmas everyone!”

Elsewhere in the field, Barry Lindsay was back in action with his Peugeot 106 – but there was a new voice calling the notes as nephew Martyn Petry stepped into the navigator’s seat.

The duo endured a troubled day and regularly caught slower cars on track. On three occasions they were held up by slower crews unaware that they were behind them; and they also twice suffered suspension damage which had to be repaired in service.

Losing over a minute, the time loss proved too much to recover – but they fought back to finish second in class and 20th overall.

West Cumbria’s Ann Foster navigated Dave Hornbrook to 17th place in their Mitsubishi Evo, while the Penrith crew of Nicky Cowperthwaite and James Wood took there 1400cc Vauxhall Corsa to 26th overall and second in class.

Nigel and Helen Harkness brought there Corsa home in 47th place, and Darren Nugent made a return to competition after a more than twenty year absence – finishing 36th overall and 7th in class with his Mk2 Escort.