2007 Pirelli Star Driver Darren Gass will not contest the final rally of his prize year, Wales Rally GB, after breaking his hand at his home in Armagh on Sunday.
The youngster was preparing to travel to south Wales for the start of the event recce on Tuesday, when he hopped over a fence and slipped in the icy conditions. The subsequent fall broke two bones in his left hand, meaning he will not be able to grip the steering wheel of his Pirelli liveried Mitsubishi Evo IX.
"I'm absolutely gutted," he said on Monday ahead of what is the final round in the 2008 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship and the final round in the WRC. "I can't believe I'm not going to be able to show my potential on Rally GB.
"We haven't had the luckiest of years but we were certain this would change after such good stage times back on Rally Yorkshire.
"The doctor reckons I won't be back in action for six to eight weeks, so that's it until next year. I'd like to thank Pirelli for a great opportunity though; the Star Driver prize has been fantastic and hopefully will help my rallying career.
"We were already looking for sponsors for a Super 2000 Peugeot 207 in 2009, so I guess this will give me chance to concentrate on that. We'd love to come back to the British Rally Championship, but if we can find the budget we'll try and compete in the Irish Tarmac series too."
The final place in this year's Pirelli Star Driver competition meanwhile will be decided on this weekend's Wales Rally GB, making a total of eight finalists vying for the coveted prize.