S D Roy suffered misfortune on the opening round of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship last weekend as he retired from the Pirelli International Rally with a mechanical problem.

Roy and co-driver Bob Stokoe endured a difficult event in their 1.8 litre CMC-prepared MG ZR, which culminated in them retiring on stage seven of the Carlisle-based forest gravel rally with a gearbox problem whilst they were 43rd overall.

The crew's event did not get off to the best of starts as they went off in stage one on Friday night and got stuck in one of Kielder Forest's infamous ditches. They could not get the car out and had to miss the following three stages before rejoining the event on Saturday morning under SupeRally rules with 40 minutes worth of penalties - 10 minutes for each stage missed.

They restarted the event on Saturday and completed stage five, the opening test of the day. Then with stage six cancelled they went straight into stage seven where the gearbox problem struck about a mile from the end when Roy couldn't find any gears.

"It was a frustrating weekend and I'm so disappointed that we didn't finish," Calcutta-born Roy said. "I couldn't believe it when we got stuck in the ditch on stage one but at least we could restart on Saturday even though we had lost a lot of time with the penalties.

"It's so unfortunate that our event ended as it did. I was just getting my confidence up in the stage when I felt there was a problem and then I couldn't find any gears at all so we pulled in. It's disappointing that we didn't collect any points in the championship but there's still six rounds to go and I'm already looking forward to the next rally."

Roy has made the step up to compete in the main BRC series this season in a more powerful car after spending two years competing in the supporting lower-powered BRC Stars 1400 Championship in a 1400cc MG.

He and Stokoe will next be in action across the tarmac in round two of the BRC, the Kelso-based Jim Clark Rally, on May 24-25.