VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team has announced that Francois Duval has been chosen to replace the injured Gigi Galli for the Repco Rally New Zealand.
Duval will be entered in the 'second' car, with Matthew Wilson
the other nominated point scoring driver, as Henning Solberg
is already committed to making another 'guest' appearance for the Munchi's Ford
World Rally Team.
Duval, who took a fantastic third place finish in Germany last weekend, what was his first outing in the WRC since the Rallye Monte Carlo back in January, was always the favourite to get the call as he was already down to do the other two remaining tarmac events in Spain and Corsica later this year.
Indeed while the Belgian is now regarded as a bit of an asphalt specialist, he has competed on gravel a number of times and demonstrated his ability to deliver on the loose most notably in Australia in 2005, when he took his one and only victory in the WRC.
The outing in NZ is also logical as it will allow him more time behind the wheel of his Focus RS WRC07.
"We will be very happy to have Francois back in the Stobart
team for New Zealand," said Ford/M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson.
"He did a great job in Germany last weekend and as he is already confirmed to compete in Spain and Corsica, it will be a good opportunity for him to gain more valuable experience and time in the car."
Who will call the pace-notes for Duval meanwhile has still to be confirmed and while usually a team may only change one element of the entry – something that would mean Giovanni Bernacchini would have to act as co-driver, the Stobart
team management are currently requesting special permission from the FIA to change both the driver and co-driver elements due to the obvious safety issue brought about by the language barrier. If this is confirmed then Patrick Pivato will join Duval for the eleventh round in the WRC.