The BP Ford
Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has announced that asphalt expert Francois Duval will partner Mikko Hirvonen
for the asphalt events in Spain and Corsica in October.
The 27-year-old Belgian, who took a fine third place finish in Germany on what was his first WRC outing since Monte Carlo back in January, will be nominated to score manufacturer points in the two asphalt events as the Blue Oval seeks to beat Citroen
to the 2008 manufacturers' title.
Duval, who will replace the injured Gigi Galli in the Stobart
team in New Zealand, had also been due to compete for the team in the two asphalt events, but his place will now be taken in the Ford 'B' team for those outings by regular Ford man Jari-Matti Latvala.
The young Finn will continue to partner Hirvonen on Rally New Zealand next weekend and will then return to BP Ford
Abu Dhabi colours for the final two events of the year in Japan and Great Britain.
"Francois was due to drive a Focus RS WRC for the Stobart
team in Spain and Corsica," BP Ford
Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson said. "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 Francois' experience of these two specialised rallies will maximise our chances of obtaining strong results."
Duval himself said he was pleased to get the chance to help Ford in its quest to secure the manufacturers' crown and said he was confident of scoring well on both events.
"I'm delighted that Malcolm has the confidence to nominate me for the BP Ford
Abu Dhabi team," he said. "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."