Francois Duval has said that he was happy to be back with Ford's premier team on the Rally RACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada last weekend, even though he had to give up what would have been his second podium finish of the season.

Duval slowed in the penultimate stage for the good of the M-Sport-run outfit and team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, who is bidding to take this year's drivers' title, but who is now up against it as Sebastien Loeb has a 12-point lead, with just three rounds remaining.

Duval and Hirvonen had finished day one separated by just 2.8 seconds. However on Saturday the Belgian pulled away ending proceedings with the margin up to 13.2 seconds. He continued to open the gap on Sunday too and prior to going slow in SS17 had a 31.6 second cushion.

Despite losing the rostrum though, Francois was satisfied with his form - and with 16 top-five times, including two stages wins, he had every right to be content.

"The team forced me to give the podium place to Mikko Hirvonen. But despite that I had a very good rally," he noted after finishing in fourth. "It was a good weekend for me and I'm happy to be back in the Ford team.

"I made no mistakes and suffered no punctures and this has given me real confidence for next weekend's rally in Corsica. This isn't my favourite asphalt event because the surface is too pure and too smooth, like driving on a motorway at times.

"However, I found a good set-up for my Focus, my pace was consistent and I enjoyed the tougher and more slippery roads yesterday."

Looking to the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse, when he will again be part of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT set-up, the 27-year-old added that he wants to do better now and he is hoping he can take the fight to the Citroen's of Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo.

"I had a good rally in Spain, but I think Corsica can be better and I would like to challenge for victory," he continued. "I feel confident and Rally de Espa?a was good training.

"Corsica's roads are twisty, abrasive and aggressive on tyres. It's important for a driver to have the same attacking attitude as in Spain, but to balance that with some caution. To attack too hard in Corsica can lead to mistakes, because the roads are so narrow that if a driver makes an error there isn't much room to correct it before hitting something.

"I had a really good test there before we went to the rally in Spain. I covered about 300km in a day-and-a-half. It is a difficult rally and hard for a driver, but that's the type of challenge I enjoy."



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