Three-time British Rally champion Mark Higgins has said that it was a real shame he was unable to finish the Pirelli International Rally last weekend, the opening round in the 2008 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship.

Higgins, who was competing in a Stobart Motorsport-branded MG Sport S2000, was in contention for the runners-up spot on the Carlisle-based event, when his engine blew in SS10 and he was forced out.

Prior to that he had been running third overall, having posted seven top-three times from eight and going into the 5.11 kilometre-run through Arthurs Seat 2, he was over 40 seconds up on Phillip Morrow in fourth and only 9.5 seconds off Juho Hanninen, in second.

Despite the disappointment however, he was philosophical about the situation and was clearly happy with the MG.

"It was fantastic to be out driving the MG Super 2000 Sport again. Unlike when we used it on the Border Counties, when we were only using the event as a Pirelli test, we had the set up we wanted and it was working well," he told his personal website, www.markhiggins.co.uk.

"It's a really fun car to drive and the team were great, but sadly we didn't make it to the end of the event.

"Things actually got off to quite a bad start when the oil cam seal came off on the road section to the first stage. Amazingly we found it on the sump guard or that would have been the rally over before the first competitive mile.

"We got it back on but were two minutes late getting to the stage so we got a 20 second penalty.

"We were second fastest through that first stage and third fastest on six stages after that, but our rally ended on stage 10 when the engine blew. It was such a shame not to get to the end because we had been learning more and more about the car on each stage and really enjoying driving it."

Higgins now flies back to Italy, where he is involved with one of the most exciting movies of the year, the 22nd James Bond film - and the second featuring Daniel Craig as 007.

"It was a quick trip home for the rally because I'm already back in Italy continuing work on the new James Bond film, Quantum of Solace," he added. "I'm doing some stunt driving. It's fantastic to be involved with such a huge production - even if I'm not playing one of the good guys!"