Richard Burns ended 2003 with mixed feelings, having lined up a return to Subaru to follow a disappointing two-year foray with Peugeot.
Burns has relied on consistency rather than speed at Peugeot
But rallying was put into stark perspective when he blacked out behind the wheel of his road car on the way to the Rally GB in November.
Burns was subsequently diagnosed with a brain tumour and will sit out 2004 while he undergoes radiotherapy and hopes to recover.
If he does return to the cockpit of a rally car, he will want to bury memories of a frustrating time at Peugeot.
His decision to leave Subaru after winning the world title in 2001 put him into rallying's best car last year - but it also matched him up with Marcus Gronholm, and Burns came out distinctly second best.
A year in which the reigning world champion wins no rallies while driving the best car is a major disappointment, however you dress it up, and Burns needed to bound back this season.
Last season: 5th
He has not done so.
Although he led the championship until as recently as the Corsica Rally, that was down to his incredible consistency more than anything else.
Burns, amazingly, has not won a rally for Peugeot and his bad luck in falling ill just days before the final event of the season means he never will - he is moving on back to Subaru for 2004.
Many would argue that, in terms of ultimate speed at least, Burns has been found out.
Gronholm, after all, has won three rallies this year and has gone off in the lead of at least two others.
Burns, meanwhile, contented himself with driving steadily and picking up as many points as possible, happy to let the new scoring system help him out.
He led the series for a long time, but in the end he dropped off the top, and he never looked a likely champion even before his life took on a new complexion on the M4 that day.