Citroen have announced that Francois Duval will join the team for the 2005 FIA World Rally Championship - the Belgian replaces Carlos Sainz, who has decided to retire.

Duval's co-driver, Stephane Prevot will also make the move to the French outfit.

Duval, who has raced for Ford for the last three seasons [two full-time], has seemingly though made a strange decision, as Citroen have already revealed that they won't be in competing in the WRC from the end of next year.

Ford of course, have confirmed in contrast that they will be in the WRC for four more years. However with both announcements coming at the start of this month, within days of each other, it is logical to conclude that Duval may have figured it was better to have one certain season with Citroen, than hang on for Ford, who could have withdrawn completely. Also he may not have been privy to PSA's decision to axe both the Citroen and Peugeot WRC outfits.

Whatever he faces a tough season in 2005 alongside current Citroen star, and world champion, Sebastien Loeb.

News that he has agreed to the move meanwhile, also puts an end to a number of rumours, not least that Citroen were in discussions with Colin McRae, who raced for the team in 2003.

A number of outfits currently have vacancies for next year, including top outfits Peugeot and Ford, both of those teams however are expected to stick with number one drivers Marcus Gronholm and Markko Martin respectively, although Martin has been heavily linked with Peugeot, which would leave Ford looking for not one, but two new drivers.

Speaking during the pre-event press conference at the Rally Australia, the Estonian refused to comment on talk that he will join Peugeot in 2005.

"I think the situation at the moment is very changeable," he said, "so its like you know, there is a game where the music plays and the people are just going around and when the music stops everybody has to sit down but one is missing a chair so I think it could be very much like that in the championship and when the time comes there may be some surprises to some people that there is no chair and I just hope that I am not the one who is standing up when the music stops."

The full statement from Citroen read:

"For the 2005 season, Francois Duval and his co-driver Stephane Prevot are to join the 2004 World Rally Champions Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena at Citroen.

"For the young Belgian driver, the move marks a return to his origins in the sport since he began his rallying career in 1999 with victory in Belgium's Citroen Saxo Challenge.

"After his first two complete seasons at World Rally Championship level, his record already features seven podium finishes.

"It's also with Citroen that Stephane Prevot first competed as a co-driver, in the 1988 Citroen AX Challenge. Having sat alongside Bruno Thiry on a number of events, including notably the European Rally Championship driving a Citroen Xsara Kit Car, he has partnered Francois Duval in the World Rally Championship since 2003."