Alan Cookson and London co-driver Julian Wilkinson saw their 100 per cent finishing success rate in 2009 disappear when gearbox problems halted their bid for honours on this weekend's Manx Telecom Rally.

The crew were contesting the fourth round of the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship in their Robert Wiseman Dairies, Kick Energy,, Riverside Property Services, and Subaru Impreza World Rally Car and were hoping to consolidate their lead in Class 9 going into the two-day event after three strong finishes on the preceding rounds.

Despite the very changeable weather conditions on Friday night, Cookson overcame the treacherous lanes to the south and east of the Island to hold a creditable 12th place overall at the overnight halt and was confident going into today's action.

However, a puncture on the opening stage of the day saw the pair lose a minute but going into the eighth stage, Cookson started to notice a gearbox problem which got gradually worse until he had no option but to retire on SS11.

"I was well chuffed with the way things went last night but then it all started to go wrong today," Cookson said after retiring. "After suffering the puncture, I noticed a noise in the gearbox and although we tried to continue, there was no point in wrecking it just for the sake of it so I parked it up. It's disappointing to miss out on the points and to lose the lead in the class but we can still bounce back what with the dropped scores so everything's not lost yet. It's our first non-finish of the year and I just need to find some Manx luck in future as this place hasn't been too kind to me recently!"

The next round of the series takes place with the Severn Valley National Rally on May 30th meaning it shouldn't be long before Cookson is able to bounce back from his weekend's disappointment.


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