The first stage of the faster, much anticipated 2017 World Rally Championship season at the Rallye Monte Carlo was cancelled after Hayden Paddon’s brand-new Hyundai oversteered on the icy edge of the road and crashed into a cliff. It rolled over, blocking the stage road. One spectator was injured in the incident.
[UPDATE 7:23 p.m. ET: The WRC has since confirmed that the spectator has died. More information here.]
As you can see in the video below, a spectator appears to have been hit in the incident. The man was taking photographs when Paddon reached his part of the stage, according to organizers who spoke with Agence France Presse. Sources told the AFP that the man was a 50-year-old from Spain.
The man was airlifted to a hospital in Nice. WRC’s update claims the main “passed out,” however, the AFP says that a heart attack was suspected.
This roll near the end of Stage 1 makes Paddon’s Hyundai i20 WRC the very first 2017-spec car to crash in competition. Both Paddon and codriver John Kennard were okay, per a tweet from the Hyundai Motorsport team.
The stage was paused, with an automatic “yellow flag” warning being sent to Jari-Matti Latvala’s Toyota Yaris WRC car further up the stage road, telling him to slow him down for Paddon’s crash. Competitors were held back at the start line until organizers made the call to cancel the stage.
Warning: video shows an incident where a spectator was killed.
Rallye Monte Carlo continues throughout this weekend.
UPDATE [3:34 p.m. ET]: Hyundai Motorsport confirmed via Tweet that a person watching the stage was involved in the incident:
While we’re waiting for an official update on that person’s condition, Stage 2 of the rally will go on as planned.
Edit [4:03 p.m.]: Originally, we noted a spectator tumbling down the hill after the collision, but a broadcast still posted to Twitter (warning: graphic) appears to show the person being struck by Paddon’s car. This has been changed above until we know more.
UPDATE #2 [3:27 p.m.]: Stage 2 has been delayed by 10 minutes, per WRC Radio.
UPDATE #3 [5:18 p.m.]:
The WRC released the following statement on the incident:
SS 1 has been cancelled due to the crash of Paddon and Kennard. The crew is unharmed. A spectator passed out. The emergency services have been called to rescue him. SS2 is maintained as expected at 11:07 p.m. [local time].
More information is expected to follow.
Edit #2 [5:55 p.m.]: More information on the man struck by Paddon’s car from the AFP has been added above, and the title has been edited accordingly.