Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon has crashed during the opening stage of the Monte Carlo Rally, stopping the stage after a spectator was involved.

The Hyundai driver lost control on ice, and slid off the road and into a bank, where someone was standing.

Live footage showed the spectator tumble down the bank and other spectators rush to check on the person.

Paddon and co-driver John Kennard were not injured.

Advertisement

Paddon sent two Tweets following the crash but didn't make mention of the spectator. He referred to black ice contributing to the incident.

The stage was cancelled by rally organisers. A second stage is set to get underway.

Conditions were treacherous in the hills, where the night-time stage was being held. Black ice featured prominently in 0 degrees C, making it difficult for drivers to judge grip levels.

Four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier and Paddon's Hyundai teammate Thierry Neuville had already completed the stage when Paddon had his crash. Both drivers spoke of difficult driving conditions.

Shortly after the crash, Paddon was seen on television coverage, frantically waving his hands. His car didn't appear too damaged and, in normal circumstances, they would have tried to get the Hyundai i20 back on its wheels to finish the stage.

Television commentary said the official reason the stage was cancelled was because Paddon's car was blocking the course.

It is the worst possible start to the new season for the World Rally Championship, which ushered in a new spec of cars and welcomed Citroen and Toyota back into the championship.

This week, Paddon told Stuff.co.nz he would need more "brave pills" for the Monte Carlo event, as he and his rivals adjusted to their new, more powerful machines.

"You do notice the extra power and corners coming at you a little quicker, but at the same time the car has more capabilities, it can carry that extra speed through corners," said the Hyundai factory driver.

"It just means you have to take a few more brave pills while you get used to it. After that, it becomes second nature and before long, we'll be wanting more power."

Monte Carlo is known as one of the more technical courses on the world rally circuit. Drivers may not be a top speed, but would still be grappling with more power through corners.

- More to come