Subaru World Rally driver Richard Burns escaped unhurt today after hitting a lorry head-on during the recce for this weekend's Monte Carlo Rally.

Britain's Ceefax reports that the incident occurred as Burns was travelling between two stages of the recce, in appalling 'arctic' weather conditions, on a road near Sospel deep in the Alps.

The 2000 WRC runner-up apparently struck an oncoming lorry after sliding into its path in the blizzard conditions.

Although the relatively low-speed incident caused damage to the 30-year old's Subaru, neither he, co-driver Robert Reid nor the lorry driver were injured, allowing Burns to continue on his way - albeit in a new Impreza.

Hyundai's Piero Liatti is also reported to have been involved in a similar incident on the treacherous mountain roads.

Despite the unwelcome distraction, Burns will certainly remain focused on his attempts to win the first round of the 2001 World Rally Championship, which, if the current weather conditions continue, will be an even greater challenge than predicted.