Francois Duval has said that he is 'hopeful' he has did enough on the Rallye Monte Carlo this weekend to earn himself some further outings in the WRC this season.
The Belgian went into the opening event of the year freely admitting it was vital he did well in order to ensure the collaboration with the Stobart Ford squad would be extended to include additional events.
Furthermore while he had a bit of a lucky escape on the very first stage, when he slid on a big patch of ice and into a small wall, he once again impressed and was running in fifth from the off.
Indeed he was soon battling with Chris Atkinson, initially for fourth, before Dani Sordo's retirement increased the ante and it became a fight for the final place on the podium.
Going into the last leg, Francois was 20.1 seconds down on P3 but he put in a great charge and won four of the five stages and only narrowly missed out on that rostrum, with just 1.1 seconds separating him and the Subaru at the finish.
Despite having to settle for fourth though, he was happy with his form.
"It's great for me to finish in fourth position here. It has been difficult with new tyres, a new car, new co-driver and new stages on the rally but we have done a good job here and collected important points," he stated.
"It took some time to adjust and get confidence with everything but as you can see we were able to set some fastest times today. Hopefully there will be more events to come for me this year."
M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson meanwhile was quick to praise Duval's form and he was clearly impressed by his old driver. Malcolm was also happy with the performances of the other Stobart drivers, with Gigi Galli finishing sixth and Henning Solberg and his son, Matthew coming in ninth and tenth.
"It is a fantastic start to the season for the Stobart team; all four entered cars inside the top ten, both nominated crews scoring points and they have grabbed a strong position in the manufacturers' championship. For François to be so close to a podium is a remarkable achievement and you must remember this is his first time in the car. It's very promising to see that the new guys have got to grips with the car and team so quickly," he concluded.
So has Duval done enough to get some additional outings with Ford?
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