Francois Duval admitted that Wales Rally GB had been one of the more difficult events of his career as he took the stages for the first time since the accident that left regular co-driver Patrick Pivato seriously injured.

Pivato was hospitalised and put into an induced coma following the accident in Japan, with Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson admitted that he had 'feared the worst' in the days following the incident.

It led to question marks over whether or not Duval would take part in the final round of the World Rally Championship season, although the Belgian elected to compete when it became apparent that Pivato was out of danger - with the Frenchman now continuing his recovery back in Europe.

Teaming up with Denis Giraudet for the Welsh event in his Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Focus WRC, Duval was second quickest through the first stage on day one before a small off on SS3 knocked his confidence.

From that point on, he elected to play it steady and took sixth place on the penultimate stage when team-mate Henning Solberg went off the road and damaged his suspension.

Duval maintained that place through the final stage and he admitted that it had been important to come home in the points as he seeks to rebuild his confidence.

"We found this rally very hard and it was difficult to really get into a rhythm," Duval admitted. "We had a few spins on the first day and after the accident in Japan I didn't have confidence to be fully committed in the fast sections.

"The important thing for me here was to get to the end of the rally with no problems and pick up points for the team. The rally was difficult and finding grip was not easy, sometimes the road had ice and sometimes it was just wet but it always looked the same and was very hard to judge."