Chris Atkinson has been taken to hospital after crashing the Subaru Impreza WRC he shares with co-driver St?phane Pr?vot on the opening Walters Arena spectator leg of Wales Rally GB, having received a knock on the head in the impact.

The pair headed into the stage - numbered seven but in reality the fifth of the rally following the cancellation of both runs through Hafren - lying in sixth position, 25.8 seconds shy of leader Jari-Matti Latvala. The only one of the day's tests due to be run to its original format in view of the treacherous weather conditions, the 2.29km sprint nevertheless began in heavy rain and under spotlights in the pitch black.

On the first corner of the stage - a flat-out left-hander just 180 metres in - the #6 car rolled and subsequently caught fire. Though neither Atkinson nor Pr?vot were seriously injured, they are undergoing precautionary medical checks.

"Both are out of the car and have been taken away by ambulance," revealed Subaru World Rally Team spokesman Tom Tremayne. "They were both reported as okay by the ambulance crew, and they have been talking to us over the radio.

"Chris was airlifted to hospital after receiving a knock on the head, so he has been taken in for observation."

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