Declan Boyle and Garry Jennings stay away from Rally of the Lakes
Declan Boyle and Garry Jennings have been hit by the vagaries of rallying with neither figuring in the top 10 of the 2015 Irish championship standings.
And now reigning champion Boyle and 2013 winner Jennings will miss this weekend's fourth round, the Killarney-based Rally of the Lakes, ending whatever remaining hopes they might have had.
And with current leader Sam Moffett and younger brother Josh opting to concentrate on preparations for their impending trip to the Azores for round four of the European championship, the door has been flung wide open for Donagh Kelly.
He and co-driver Kevin Flanagan sit in second place after wins in Galway and West Cork and could have their first title wrapped up by mid-season. Indeed, as leader of the Irish National series as well, Kelly is on course to emulate Boyle's championship double of last year.
His third place behind the Moffett brothers in Monaghan last Sunday was his first defeat of the season and he goes to Killarney with his M-Sport Ford Focus brimming with confidence.
In contrast Boyle has endured a horrendous season, his Subaru giving persistent problems. He sees no point in going to Killarney until it is fixed and instead the car's ECU, or "brain", has been sent to the specialists at McLaren Engineering for forensic analysis.
Jennings, a past Lakes winner, says his Subaru won't be ready either following an overrun on a transmission re-build, but with his daughter Annie having suffered a broken leg he doubts whether he'd have gone anyway.
However, there is still a capacity field in Killarney and the rally starts tomorrow morning with the traditional wake-up call of the classic Moll's Gap stage.