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Duval the `dark horse` in Germany?

Francois Duval will return to action in the World Rally Championship this weekend on the Rallye Deutschland and many believe the Belgian will be a serious contender.

Duval, who last competed in the WRC back in January on the Rallye Monte Carlo, when he finished fourth, will again be nominated to score manufacturers' points for the Stobart Ford team, alongside regular 'team leader' Gigi Galli, while Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson will both compete just for themselves in what is effectively the 'third' and 'fourth' cars.

Duval, who is something of a tarmac specialist, is one of only a small handful of WRC competitors to have contested this event every year since its inception in the World Rally Championship back in 2002.

His results speak for themselves with three second place finishes in 2004, 2005 and more recently 2007 - where he finished just 20 seconds behind the leader in a Kronos-run Citroen Xsara WRC.

"In the past I have had some very good results here in Germany and this year I am in the championship winning car so hopefully this can continue," said Duval, who will be co-driven by Patrick Pivato in his R-Tec Motorsport run Focus RS WRC07.

"The stages here are quite similar to those in Belgium which I think will also help a lot. The deal we have struck this year is to do all the remaining tarmac rounds which I am excited about because I know I have the best speed on asphalt. Hopefully my addition will help the Stobart team's chance for more points in the Manufacturers' Championship and also mine in the drivers'."

M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson meanwhile is especially upbeat about what Duval could achieve and even said that he could win in an exclusive interview with Crash.net Radio last month.

"I don't see any reason why he can't do something similar this year in Germany as he did in 2007 too," Wilson Sr added. "He has got the chance. He did a very good rally in Monte Carlo in the Stobart Focus.

"He has got a days testing planned with the team. I don't see any reason why he can't be challenging for victory even."

As for the Stobart squad as a whole, Wilson Sr believes that the potential to get serious points this weekend is huge: "The Stobart team have a very good chance of scoring well in Germany as I feel we are fielding our strongest team to date," he continued in the official Stobart team pre-event preview.

"Francois' record here speaks for itself and I think he will do a great job for the team. Gigi has been here a few times now so he too will have the experience on what is one of the most challenging tarmac events due to the different characteristics of the stages and the unpredictable weather conditions."


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Francois Duval (BEL), Stobart Ford Focus WRC 07. Rallye Monte Carlo, 24-27th January 2008.
Francois Duval`s Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 for the Rallye Deutschland. August 2008. [Pic credit: Willy Weyens Photography]
Francois Duval`s Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC07 for the Rallye Deutschland. August 2008. [Pic credit: Willy Weyens Photography]
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Monza, [Credit: Hyundai Motorsport]
Podium 1st Australian - Molly Taylor (AUS) Bill Hayes (AUS) Subaru Impreza WRX Sti
Podium - Volkswagen
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Podium, 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium, 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Podium - Volkswagen
Podium - Volkswagen
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Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC

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