Frank sets sights on rally career

Date: Friday 15th February 2019
Frank Bird in the PBM Ford Focus WRC.
Frank Bird in the PBM Ford Focus WRC.

TEENAGER Frank Bird is set to complement his impressive circuit racing career when he takes to the rally stages this year following a successful test last week in the Paul Bird Motorsport team’s Ford Focus WRC 07.

The 19-year-old Penrith-born star put the Dom Buckley Motorsport-prepared car through its paces at a damp Teesside Autodrome in Middlesbrough, and at the end of the day-long test said he was looking forward to competing in the Frank Bird Poultry Ltd, Be Wiser Insurance and Hager-backed car.

It means he will have a busy 2019 as he looks to combine his season in the single-seater Formula Renault Eurocup with various outings in sports car endurance racing and the odd stage rally, too, hopefully beginning with the Donington Park Rally on Sunday, 3rd March.

Frank drove the car on gravel last year and was equally impressive, but plans to do a few asphalt events before taking it into the forests. He has secured the co-driver services of Hexham’s Jack Morton, who has been part of the Cumbrian PBM team for a couple of years.

Frank said: “I’ve really enjoyed driving the rally car here, it’s been great fun, but a little different to what I’m used to. It’s a lot heavier but has a lot more power and having someone sat next to you is different, so it took a while to get acquainted with everything, but it soon all clicked into place.

“Hopefully, we can get a run at Donington Park next month and put what I’ve learned into practice on an actual event. Thanks to my dad and the Dom Buckley Motorsport team for the opportunity — it’s been awesome.”

Team owner and Frank’s dad, Paul, said: “Frank has a busy year this year with his single-seater and GT programme and at his age it does no harm to drive as many different cars as possible.

“He’s already faster than I ever went around here so things are looking good. We plan on keeping the car so it’s nice to see him out in it, and the way he was throwing it around today looked like he’d been driving it for ages.

“Frank suggested having a go in it, and with the support of Neil Buckley to run the car, we are all looking forward to seeing how he improves as the year goes on.”

Assuming Frank gets a run on the Donington Park rally — he is on the reserve list — the car will be displaying decals supporting the PBM team’s charity of choice for this year, which is Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland.

Already the team has raised more than £1,000 this year, and various other fund-raising events are lined up.