(Reuters) - Ford's Adrien Fourmaux crashed out of the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally when he clipped a bank and rolled his car over a barrier and down a ravine on Friday's opening stage in the French Alps.
The young Frenchman and his co-driver Alex Coria, who had been fourth after Thursday's two night stages, clambered unhurt from the battered wreckage after the incident on icy mountain roads.
Nine times world champion Sebastien Loeb, now competing part-time with M-Sport Ford, won all three of the morning's stages to lead Toyota's Elfyn Evans by 10.6 seconds at the tyre change point.
Loeb then started the afternoon by also winning stage six to extend his lead to 14.5 seconds.
Eight times champion Sebastien Ogier, now competing only in selected races, was in third place for Toyota.
"It was tricky with the ice, in some places we had a lot of grip but in others there was nothing. I have a good feeling with the car and I tried to be flat out from start to end," said Loeb, 47.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Alex Richardson)