MONTE CARLO - World Rally champion Ott Tanak was taken to hospital for precautionary checks on Friday after rolling his Hyundai spectacularly at speed in the Monte Carlo Rally.

Hyundai said in a statement that the Estonian and co-driver Martin Jarveoja were able to exit the car unassisted after the accident in the French Alps 9.2km into the 20.68km fourth stage.

"Tanak and Järveoja have been taken to hospital for precautionary medical checks, as is standard procedure following a crash of this nature," the team added.

Camera footage showed the Hyundai careering off the road and barrel-rolling into trees.

Tanak won the championship with Toyota last season and the season-opening Monte Carlo rally is his competitive debut with Hyundai, the reigning manufacturers' champions.

The Estonian had been third overall after Thursday's opening night stages. 

His team-mate Thierry Neuville led the first two night stages on Thursday, with seven times winner Sebastien Ogier 19.1 seconds behind on his Toyota debut.

Ogier won the dry opening Malijai-Puimichel stage in the French Alps after the formal start in Monaco.

Neuville then dominated the icier, 25.49km Bayons-Breziers second stage to lead the rally back to the service at Gap.

"They were tricky conditions. I was trying to read the road as well as I could and not take risks. I think we have done a good time," said Neuville after completing the stage 25.5 seconds faster than Ogier.

Reuters

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