Having impressed immensely with his form in testing, Loic Duval will have the opportunity to shine on an A1 Grand Prix race day for the first time when he assumes driving duties for France in the latest round of the championship at Taupo.

With Nicolas Lapierre currently sidelined due to GP2 commitments, Duval will graduate from the role of second driver to become France's nominated competitor in New Zealand in the hope the new circuit will provide something of a leveller for the debutant.

Having signed to compete in another season of Formula Nippon, Duval has set his sights high for the coming weekend as he bids to improve on the team's fourth place in the standings, 16 points behind Germany.

"The last race in Sentul feels like so long ago. I had the chance to recharge my batteries after signing for the Nakajima Formula Nippon GT at the end of last season. Then I went skiing in France in the French Alps to train.

"I'm fit and in great shape for this weekend. I'm really excited to go to New Zealand for the first time and the brand new circuit facilities at the renovated track will be great. The car was good in Sentul with team-mate Nicolas Lapierre finishing on the podium. I'm confident for the weekend ahead."

Indeed, having topped the 'rookie practice sessions' on numerous occasions this year and at times even out pacing Lapierre, one of the architects of France's A1 domination the previous year, managing director Eric Boullier claims Duval has earned his chance to compete.

"We won the first A1GP World Cup of Motorsport as Nicolas Lapierre was one of our drivers. This time, Loic Duval will have the chance to defend his country's colours while Nicolas Lapierre is busy in an intensive training camp, preparing for the 2007 GP2 series.

"The team will benefit from maximum running time on track as Loic will drive in the rookie session and both races. It is quite important to record and study the maximum data on a new track to make up for the experience we have not had on brand new track."



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