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Strong return for super-sub Duval.

Francois Duval's return to gravel has been labelled a success following the first day of competition for the Rally New Zealand, the Belgian lifting himself up to fifth place.

Racing the Stobart VK Ford Focus this weekend in place of the injured Gigi Galli, Duval showed few ill-effects from the fact he has not driven a WRC car on gravel since Greece last year.

Although not quite able to split the factory Ford and Citroens inside the top four, Duval bridged the gap between them and the 'best of the rest' as he sits 90secs behind the leaders but over half a minute ahead of sixth place Urmo Aava.

Admitting to not being too confident at first, Duval was pleased to have found a good rhythm by the end of the day.

“Today has been good for us especially with this being my first WRC event on gravel since Greece last year. This morning the car was not feeling great so we changed the rollbar at service which resulted in much less over-steer and this helped my confidence a lot this afternoon.

“On the last two stages I was using a bit too much left-foot braking and I lost the front brakes but apart from that everything went well this afternoon.”

Duval, who will race the factory Focus in Spain and Corsica, was also praised by team principal Malcolm Wilson for how quickly he is adapting back to the gravel driving style.

“It has been a great first day by François after such a long break since his last gravel event in a World Rally car. He has picked up the pace over the course of the day and is now in a position to score good points for the Stobart team.”

Matthew Wilson, meanwhile, in the second Stobart VK machine had been running inside the points when he developed gearbox problems and was forced to retire. Although he will restart in SupeRally, his hopes of a good result are otherwise over.

“It is a shame we had to retire today after doing so well. The times were looking good and we had some really promising splits on that last stage before we retired. This is the sport sometimes though and tomorrow we will have a repaired car and a perfect road position so I'm looking forward to setting some more fast times.

“Again though, it is disappointing because we were in a position to score good points for both the team and the championship.”


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Francois Duval (B) Patrick Pivato (B) Ford Focus RS WRC 07
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Gus GREENSMITH (GBR) - Craig PARRY (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Gus GREENSMITH (GBR) - Craig PARRY (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Hiroki ARAI (JPN) - Glenn MACNEALL (AUS) Ford Fiesta R5, Tommi Mäkinen Racing
12.02.2017 - Alexey LUKYANUK (RUS) - Alexey ARNAUTOV (RUS) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Jarosław KOLTUN (POL) - Ireneusz PLESKOT (POL) Ford Fiesta R5, C‐Rally
12.02.2017 - Eyvind BRYNILDSEN (NOR) - Anders FREDRIKSSON (SWE) Ford Fiesta R5 Adapta Motorsport AS
12.02.2017 - Podium WRC 2, 1st place Pontus Tidemand (SWE)-Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport, 2nd place Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Ole Christian VEIBY (NOR) - Stig Rune SKJÆRMOEN (NOR) Skoda Fabia R5, Printsport
12.02.2017 - Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Henning Solberg (NOR)- Ilka Minor (AUT) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
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