WELLAND rally ace Robert Ceen suffered heartbreak when he retired within sight of the finish on the Network Q Rally of Great Britain which finished in Cardiff last Sunday.

The 46-year-old amateur Worcestershire driver was co-driven by Malvern's Alistair Douglas in the four-day, 1,000-mile event won by out-going world champion Marcus Gronholm, who finished over two minutes ahead of Peugeot team-mate and fellow Finn Harri Rovanpera. Richard Burns (Subaru) finished third, earning the Briton his maiden FIA World Rally Championship "crown" - the first Englishman to ever win the prestigious title.

Ceen, driving a Subaru Impreza, survived an off-road excursion in to the bushes on stage 14 losing them a few seconds but ultimately retired on the penultimate stage when he lost control over the bumps and ended his rally in a ditch when placed 31st.

Ceen said: "We were 29th after the first four stages but then had to do two stages with a broken differential which dropped us to 46th.

"We had fought back to break inside the top-30 so to retire so close to the finish is doubly disappointing."

It was bad news also for other local competitor, Much Marcle navigator Michael Park, 35, who was co-driver for the factory-entered Subaru Impreza of Estonian Markko Martin but retired from 16th on stage five with an engine problem.

A capacity field of 120-cars started the 14th and final round of the FIA World Rally Championship from the Welsh capital city last Thursday evening while almost a third of the field succumbed to the treacherously slippery and foggy conditions the following day.

Rain and fog combined with slippery conditions tested not only the reliability of the cars but the skill of each of the 50 crews who made it back to Cardiff City Hall.