It was a fight Kris Meeke didn’t have to take on.
But he did and paid a heavy price.
Intercontinental Challenge champion Meeke was battling with local hero Freddy Loix for the lead on the Ypres Rally, sixth round of the series, when he crashed on the eighth stage, his Super 2000 Peugeot flipping over and rolling across a field.
It was his second accident in as many rallies, his third of the season, and his IRC crown is all but certainly gone.
But the question has to be asked — why was he pushing so hard in Belgium?
True, he is taking on a powerful Skoda challenge single-handedly but two of his biggest rivals for the title were not going to score points, Guy Wilks missing because of injury and series leader Juho Hanninen already on his way back to Finland after crashing on the first day.
Ypres maestro Loix, a five-times winner, is not a championship contender this year and Jan Kopecky, second in the standings, was steadily losing ground in third place.
Meeke, it seemed, was ideally positioned to get his title defence back on track.
But, just like a year ago when he won, he engaged in a ferocious battle with Loix and were just five seconds apart when the Ulsterman’s Peugeot 207 flew off the road on a fast, tightening righthander.
It was a heavy accident but neither Meeke nor co-driver Paul Nagle were injured.
Team boss Marc van Dalen supportively said: “Kris was not out of control, he was driving at 100 per cent but nothing more.”