Cumbrian driver Frank Bird’s hopes of an impressive World Rally Championship debut were dashed on the penultimate stage of the second day of the FORUM8 ACI Rally Monza.

Suspension damage forced him out at the 12th stage as Bird and co-driver Jack Morton clipped a concrete block after braking for a chicane.

The resulting investigation in the service area revealed some structural damage to the chassis and meant they couldn’t continue for the final three stages on Sunday.

Bird said: “It was a tough end to the rally for us as a small mistake had huge consequences.

“These things happen - it was definitely an eye-opening experience, but I learnt a hell of a lot.

“My pace was getting quicker and quicker the more I settled in, and I loved every second of it.”

Bird, from Penrith, was contesting the final round of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship in the WRC3 class in the Dom Buckley Motorsport-prepared and Frank Bird Poultry-backed Ford Fiesta Rally2 with assistance from Hager, Fuchs Titan Oils, Aico and Yuasa.

He and Morton held 27th place overall before Saturday’s racing.