Francois Duval's co-driver Patrick Pivato is making 'steady progress' following the injuries his sustained on the opening day of the Rally Japan, Ford boss Malcolm Wilson has said.

Pivato suffered a fractured pelvis and fractured tibia on Friday when he and Duval crashed out 4.8 kilometres into SS6 - the 11.10 kilometre-run through Yuparo 2. During surgery to increase his chances of a speedy recovery, some internal bleeding was discovered and the Frenchman was swiftly re-operated on by surgeons at Higashi Tokushukai Hospital.

Although he currently remains in a 'stable' but 'critical condition', doctors are reporting 'continued positive improvement in his progress'.

"This has been one of the most difficult rallies for the Stobart team under the circumstances," said Wilson Sr on Sunday. "I'm really pleased to report though that Patrick had a much better night last night.

"He is still critical and in an induced coma. But he has been making steady progress since the difficulties he went through on Friday evening in hospital.

"They'll do an operation tomorrow to remove the packs from his stomach. Then on Thursday they will do a fixation operation on the leg and pelvis.

"When you think back to the position we were in on Friday night, it's a great relief to everybody that he's making the progress he is. He is not out of the woods yet, but it is going in the right direction.

"I must say a big thank you to everybody in the WRC community for their support and help with the situation. It has really shown the true spirit and camaraderie within this amazing championship.

"I would be here for a long time if I were to mention everybody by name that has helped. But everybody has really pulled together in this really difficult situation. My thanks go to all the teams and the organiser of this rally.

"The medical people were there to take control within ten minutes of the accident. The crews did a great job to get the car to the position where he could be extricated. I believe he's in great hands in the hospital too. I can't express my thanks enough to all these people who have worked to help Patrick."

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