Saturday 22 July 2017

Spectator dies on first stage of Monte Carlo rally

New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon
New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon

Sean McGoldrick

A spectator has been killed on the first stage of the famous Monte Carlo rally in which Irish drivers Kris Meeke and Craig Breen have both made spectacular starts.

The first stage of the event – which is the opening round of the 2017 World rally championship – was cancelled when New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon slid wide on a left-hand corner after hitting a patch of black ice and went rear-first up the roadside embankment.

While both Paddon and co-driver Jonathan Kennard were unhurt, a spectator who was injured in the accident later died in hospital in Nice.

The event organisers and Paddon’s team Hyundai Motorsport both issued statements extending their condolences to the family, friends and individuals affected.

Paddon withdrew from the rally which is currently being led by his team mate Belgian driver Thierry Neuville.

Tyrone’s Kris Meeke, driving a factory backed Citroen, is currently lying second while Craig Breen, a native of Slieverue on the Kilkenny-Waterford border, is sixth overall as the event continues.

The performance of the latter is all the more noteworthy as he is driving last year’s Citroen car which puts him at a considerable disadvantage against all the leading contenders.

They are all driving the more advanced 2017 factory models which are engineered to take advantage of sweeping new rule changes in the sport.

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