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Asphalt expert François Duval has been called up to join the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team for the final two sealed surface rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship in Spain (2 -5 October) and Corsica (9 -12 October). The 27-year-old Belgian will be nominated to score points for the reigning manufacturers' world champion in a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car alongside season-long nominee and drivers' title challenger Mikko Hirvonen.
Duval is acknowledged as one of the world's leading asphalt drivers and finished third on this month's Rallye Deutschland at the wheel of a Focus RS WRC for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team. He will also drive for the Stobart squad on next week's Rally New Zealand as a replacement for injured Italian Gigi Galli.
He will be co-driven by Frenchman Patrick Pivato and the duo will replace Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, who will be nominated by the Stobart team. Duval's Focus RS WRC will be in traditional BP Ford Abu Dhabi livery. Latvala will partner Hirvonen in New Zealand next week and also in the final two gravel rounds of the season in Japan in October and Great Britain in December.
"François was due to drive a Focus RS WRC for the Stobart team in Spain and Corsica," said BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson. "His abilities on asphalt are well-known to us from his time as a works Ford driver from 2002 to 2004 and this decision will strengthen our-line up for those two rallies. A third consecutive manufacturers' world title is our aim this season and François' experience of these two specialised rallies will maximise our chances of obtaining strong results."
Duval, who has one WRC win to his credit, finished third in Corsica in a Focus RS WRC in 2003 and second in Spain in 2005. "I'm delighted that Malcolm has the confidence to nominate me for the BP Ford Abu Dhabi team," said Duval. "After several seasons with Ford previously I'm comfortable with the set-up here. New Zealand will be my third rally in a Focus RS WRC this season so I also feel confident with the car. I hope I can score well on both asphalt rallies and play my part in Ford retaining the world title."
Ford of Europe motorsport director Mark Deans said: "It's an advantage of Ford's customer programmes in the WRC that we have great depth of quality with the experience to step up to the highest level when required. Our customer teams increase the pool of talent with which we can work and this is a clear example of how Ford, as a whole, benefits from the system."
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