Kiwi rally ace Possum Bourne is critically ill, after he was involved in a head-on smash near Wanaka.
Bourne was driving down the race course after completing reconnaissance for the Race to the Sky event at Cardrona Valley.
He collided with a car coming the other way.
Both drivers were in normal road cars, travelling around 60 kilometres an hour.
Possum Bourne and the driver of the other car were both airlifted to Dunedin Hospital.
Hospital staff describe Bourne's condition as critical, but won't given any more details.
The Rally organiser said that the other local driver coming up the hill could have been on the wrong side of the road. You wouldn't think that he would have said that if they weren't somewhat sure of it.
The accident occured on a slight crest on a straight piece of road, it seems like Possum may have swerved in his Jeep to aviod the other car and was hit in the side.
Possum Bourne crashed in his Subaru Impreza World Rally Car.
6.30 pm - By THERESA GARNER
New Zealand rally legend Possum Bourne was critically injured in a head-on smash today in Queenstown.
The accident happened as Bourne was checking out the course used for the annual Queenstown hill climb event that he hoped to win this weekend.
The smash involved another entrant in the event who was heading uphill in a convoy of vehicles, also looking at the course.
Rescuers took twenty minutes to free Bourne, using the jaws of life, as his wife Peggy looked on.
Ambulance officers said Bourne was a "grade 1", which is the most serious condition. He was coming in and out of conciousness as they airlifted him to Dunedin Hospital.
The driver of the other vehicle is thought to have suffered a broken leg.
Bourne, who turned 47 on Sunday and also just celebrated his wedding anniversary, was to have driven his 500 horsepower Subaru Impreza World Rally car on the 14km course at the base of the Waiorau moutain range tomorrow.
There are 9 hairpin turns, 135 corners, and the longest straight is 300m. The course climbs from 1,500 ft to 5,000 ft and averages a 1:11 gradient.
Competitors attack the hill in one decisive run, taking just over eight minutes to complete the course.
Just before the crash Bourne told a reporter covering the event that after five years competing in the event, he was starting to know the course pretty well.
"There's a lot of corners but I'm finally starting to remember it all."
Nicknamed Possum after he wrote off his first car swerving to avoid a possum, Bourne has two sons, Taylor and Spencer and a daughter, Jazlin, who live in the family home at Pukekohe.
His website lists his heros as Sir Peter Blake & Sir Richard Hadlee, who "both left at the peak of their careers".
It is nearly ten years since Bourne's co-driver, Rodger Freeth was killed when they crashed out of Rally Australia.
Since then Bourne has carried the registration plate "ROJ" on his rally car in memory of his friend.
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