Wyn Humphreys has seen his Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship challenge take a severe hit after his Subaru Impreza was stolen ahead of this weekend's Ulster Rally.
The Atlas TEG Sport driver headed to Northern Ireland looking to get his campaign back on track after a disappointing outing on the Isle of Man, where an under-bonnet fire halted his challenge.
However, a trailer carrying his Subaru Impreza was taken from outside an inn near Coalisland at around 4.20am today [Friday].
Police are currently trying to trace a blue van that was seen in the area at the time.
"Security guards woke me up at 4.20am," he told the Belfast Telegraph
. "A husband and wife on a tour of Ireland happened to be sleeping in a car 20 yards away from our van and trailer and they raised the alarm after seeing the thieves towing away our trailer.
"We are lucky they contacted the police so quickly, otherwise we wouldn't have known anything about it for another five hours."
Although Humphreys remains hopeful that the car – with a registration of T15 TEG – will be recovered in time for him to take part in the Ulster Rally, he admitted that it could end his campaign if the car isn't found.
"It's like losing a member of your family," he said "We've all worked so hard and we live to run that car. It's difficult to know what to say. We're in shock. We're walking around like zombies at the moment. The race is due to start and we don't know what to do. It's a big loss for all of us.
"It's a family team and this is a huge setback. If we don't get the car back we won't be able to compete this afternoon — or afford to carry on for the rest of the year."