Ford Rallye Sport's Fran?ois Duval will be partnered by fellow Belgian St?phane Pr?vot from the Turkish Rally onwards, having cited 'personal reasons' for the early season split with regular co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin.

Thirty-four-year-old Pr?vot is a familiar face at Ford, having partnered another Belgian, Bruno Thiry, during two spells with the team in the 1990s. The pair were also part of the Formula Two world championship winning General Motors team in 1993.

Duval began the 2003 season - his first as a full-time works driver with Ford - with a seventh place finish on the Monte Carlo Rally, but retired from the Swedish Rally earlier this month. He would not be drawn as to the exact nature of the reasons behind his decision to split with Fortin.

"I informed Ford Rallye Sport team director Malcolm Wilson of my decision on Saturday," the 22-year old said, "St?phane has great experience of world championship rallying alongside Bruno Thiry and I'm sure his expertise and knowledge will prove valuable to me during my first full season in both a four-wheel drive car and the championship. He also has a good knowledge of the Ford team and there will be no difficulties in him settling in.

"I would like to thank Jean-Marc for his assistance during our time together. He has given me great help in my career and taught me a lot about what is required to compete in the world championship and with an official manufacturer team."

Duval's in-car partnership with Pr?vot will begin today as they tackle the first day of a three-day test in northern England at the wheel of Ford's radical new Focus RS, which is expected to make its competition debut on the Rally of New Zealand in April.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for me to join forces with one of the sport's rising young stars - I've been waiting for the chance to return to one of the top teams in the sport for several years and I cannot believe it has now arrived," Pr?vot revealed, before admitting that regular partner Thiry had not stood in the way of his taking the seat.

"I was contracted to co-drive for Bruno on a limited world championship programme this season but, when I told him about this offer, he said it was too good a chance to turn down and encouraged me to take it. Three days of testing with Fran?ois will give us the perfect opportunity to prepare and get used to each other before we go to Turkey later this month."