THE annual 56th Monmouth Raft Race is on Sunday (September 3) - but this early entrant won't be firing on all cylinders.

Motor power is banned anyway, but river users and walkers had a shock when an unoccupied car parked on the slope of the town riverside car park suddenly began rolling towards the Wye on Wednesday in sight of Wye Bridge.

They looked on in amazement as it picked up speed before heading across the road and down the steps.

Luckily no one was in its path as it hurtled into the water, made a huge splash and began to float downstream.

Members of Monmouth Rowing Club who were at the scene in a launch and on the bank tried to stop the vehicle from floating away but were unsuccessful.

And it finally part-sank and beached on the bottom of the river some 50 yards above Wye Bridge.

Rowers have buoyed it off and rafters will have to avoid the unusual obstacle just after the start on Sunday.

A poster said: "Mt dad sat on his balcony and watched the whole thing... handbrake not on, rolled down steps, now by Wye Bridge."

Several wags joked about the incident online, which thankfully didn't prove more serious.

One said: "Didn’t anyone tell them the bridge closure is postponed!"

Another added: "Water in the carburettor I'd say."

Sunday's raft race organised by Monmouth Rotary Club starts at 12 noon at Monmouth Rowing Club, and finishes six miles downriver at Whitebrook.

Car parking at both start (off A40 at Dixton) and finish is available for a combined £5 for both.

There is also a family festival at the finish featuring a children's fairground, stalls, hog roast/burgers, bar and music running from 1pm to 4.30pm.