Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson believes it is unlikely that Mikko Hirvonen will be able to rejoin Rally GB, meaning Sebastien Loeb could clinch his eighth world title later today.
Loeb holds an eight-point advantage over Hirvonen in the standings, and the Finn has now retired from the first leg of the event after damaging his Ford Fiesta while leading on the Dyfnant stage.
In theory, Hirvonen could rejoin for Saturday and Sunday under superally regulations, but he would sustain 20 minutes of penalties - making it extremely unlikely that he could outscore Loeb by the amount required this weekend.
Wilson said Hirvonen's incident had been minor, but had damaged the car's radiator. The car came to a halt halfway through the road section back to service.
"They had a spin where they dropped 14 seconds," Wilson explained. "Six or seven kilometres after that, he noticed the water temperature going up.
"A branch had gone through the radiator so they cleared a load of debris out from the front of the car and carried on, got through the stage, but then they had to stop. The engine was down onto three cylinders and that was it."
Wilson admitted it was highly unlikely that Hirvonen's car could be repaired for Saturday.
"It would take a miracle," said Wilson. "We'll have a look but it will take a miracle because the engine went too long without any water."
He said Hirvonen should take some comfort from the fact he had been matching Loeb when he went off.
"He's disappointed like all of the team but perhaps the one plus is he was leading when he went out," Wilson said. "It was a great opportunity and Mikko was setting a fantastic pace."