It looks like Waterford's Craig Breen will be sitting out the 2019 World Rally Championship after to failing to secure a works drive.
The entries for the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally in January have been published and Breen isn’t among the starters.
After three years with Citroen he lost his drive at the French manufacturers as they signed the six-time World champion Sebastian Ogier and also recruited Esapekka Lappi from Toyota.
Breen had hoped to tie up a deal with M-Sport Ford but they have put in a two car entry of Finland's Teemu Suninen and Welsh driver Elfin Evans and Breen was not on the radar at the English based outfit.
There was no room for Breen at Citroen who will not be running a third car in 2019 and any chance of a deal with Hyundai was cut off as they recently announced that they will be running a combination of Sebastian Loeb and Dani Sordo in their third car
"I'm disappointed we lost our seat at Citroen. I think we did a reasonable job all things considered. If you were to really delve into the depths of the reasons we didn't get the results this year, it was purely bad luck," said Breen.
"It was a difficult year. It was a transitional year, drivers chopping and changing. The atmosphere was difficult sometimes in the team."M-Sport has competed on every WRC round since taking over Ford's participation in the series in 1997, and has won seven world titles in that time including winning last year’s title with Ogier.
But because the team doesn’t have full manufacturer backing from its engine supplier Ford, having the six-time world champion in their line-up cost M-Sport money, which has now disappeared with Ogier’s switch back to Citroen
Their place on the WRC line-up looked under pressure. However M-Sport secured a deal to run two cars in the 2019 series, starting with the Monte Carlo rally next month.
Breen’s options were down to whether or not he could secure a deal with M-Sport but that door has been slammed shut with Suninen, who is under contract with the team taking the first seat with the second seat to Evans who will have Breen’s co-driver Scott Martin as his navigator
It will leave Kris Meeke as the sole Irish representative on the WRC in 2019 after his recent signing by Toyota as they bid to defend the manufacturers title they won in 2018.
Meeke will be co-driven by Seb Marshall, having also split with long time navigator, Killarney’s Paul Nagle.
Meeke, who was sacked by Citroen after Rally Portugal this tear and Nagle split amicably ahead of Meeke's 2019 WRC return with Toyota and remain firm friends.
At 28 years-old Breen is by no means a spent force on the WRC, but it is increasingly likely now that the Waterford driver will have to look elsewhere and maybe to other championships in 2019.