Mikko Hirvonen's hopes of triumphing on this weekend's Wales Rally GB – the final round on the 2008 World Rally Championship calendar – have been dealt a hammer-blow after the Finn rolled his BP Ford World Rally Team Ford Focus WRC on Sweet Lamb 2.
The day's second run through Sweet Lamb was actually only the third competitive stage of the opening day after both runs through Hafren were cancelled due to icy and dangerous conditions.
Bidding to add a fourth victory to his WRC laurels in 2008 to go alongside his Jordanian, Turkish and Japanese successes, Hirvonen's accident has left him with radiator damage to his car and 6mins 41secs adrift of early leader Sebastien Ogier – and facing a real mountain to climb.
Meanwhile, Turkish duo Koray Muratoglu and Caglar Suren in the #86 Castrol Ford Team Turkiye Ford Fiesta ST were both taken to hospital following a collision with a Range Rover on a road stage during the non-competitive liaison section from SS2 (Sweet Lamb) to SS3 (Myherin).
Both men are conscious, and Muratoglu was transported by ambulance to Bronglas Hospital in Aberystwyth, with co-driver Suren being airlifted to Princess Royal Hospital in Shrewsbury. There are no reported injuries amongst the four people in the other vehicle.
There was also drama on SS3 Myherin, which was stopped briefly to allow for a marshal to receive medical attention after being hit by a flying stone. A helicopter has taken the marshal, who was also conscious, to hospital.