Jan Kopecky and co-driver Petr Stary have been forced to withdraw their entry from the GEKO Ypres Rally, round five of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, after an accident immediately before the event.

The Skoda Motorsport duo were among the favourites to win the asphalt event in their Fabia Super 2000 but suffered a crash during the pre-rally shakedown on Thursday evening. Although Kopecky was uninjured, Stary awoke in the night complaining of pains in his right collarbone, which Skoda officials suspect may now be broken. The Czech is currently preparing to go to a local hospital for checks and a routine x-ray.

"The pain was worse than yesterday on his right side and, when Petr tried to sit in the car this morning with the seatbelt on there was no chance to breathe normally," team press officer Karel Pokorny revealed, "Petr will go to hospital and they have decided to cancel their participation on the GEKO Ypres Rally."

Pokorny confirmed that the car, which sustained front-end damage during the impact with a small bridge, has been fully repaired, leaving Kopecky, who is currently second in the IRC drivers' standings, to lament a missed opportunity.

"We had a good chance to be in a good position at the finish of the rally so the disappointment is huge," he admitted, "However, Petr's health is the priority."