Duval rejoins Stobart for Rallye Deutschland
Francois Duval and co-driver Denis Giraudet will join the Stobart M-Sport Ford World Rally Team for the ADAC Rallye Deutschland next week.
Duval, an experienced tarmac driver, has contested Rallye Deutschland every year since its inception to the FIA World Rally Championship in 2002. The 29-year-old Belgian driver has had three second place finishes in 2004, 2005 and in 2007; where he finished just 20 seconds behind the leader. His last outing at the Trier-based event was with the Stobart M-Sport Ford team in 2008 when he finished third overall.
Joining Duval as the other nominated points scorer in Germany are regular Stobart M-Sport crew members Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin. The British duo will be looking to improve on their last performance at the event in 2008 when they finished twelfth overall.
Wilson and Martin have been preparing hard for the second asphalt round of the season by undergoing testing in the south of France last week. They finished the first asphalt round of the season, Rally Bulgaria, ninth overall so will be keen to improve their performance in the Ford Focus RS WRC this time round.
Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor will also be entered under the Stobart M-Sport Ford banner but will be back behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta Super 2000 for this year's Rallye Deutschland. The Norwegian driver will not be nominated to score any manufacturer points but will return to drive the Ford Focus RS WRC at Rally Japan in September.
Rallye Deutschland was first included in the WRC in 2002 and returns in 2010 after a year's absence in accordance with the FIA event rotation system.
The fast-paced event comprises of 352.89 kilometres of competitive stage distance and will kick off on Thursday 18 August with a ceremonial start at the Porta Nigra - the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Rallye Deutschland will be the second asphalt rally of the 2010 season and the three-day event will be held in Germany's wine-producing Mosel region which is close to the historic city of Trier in north-west Germany. Rallye Deutschland is the first of two rallies this year to be eligible for all three WRC support championships: the J-WRC, P-WRC and S-WRC.
Each day of Rallye Deutschland will provide something different for the WRC drivers. Friday consists of six stages totaling 134 km located east of Trier. The stages are made up of narrow and dirty vineyard access roads which feature a variety of fast straights and tight hairpin corners.
Saturday's stages comprise of eight stages totaling a whopping 185.94 km and includes two new stages, Hermeskeil / Gusenburgh 2 (SS7 and SS11). Saturday's stages also include a repeat loop of the monster 48 km Arena Panzerplatte stage over Baumholder (SS10 and SS14). The stages are based south-east of Rally HQ and the majority are held on rough concrete roads of the Baumholder military ranges.
The final day features five stages totaling 85km including the 'Circus Maximus' Super Special Stage (SS19) that runs right through the heart of Trier's old city.
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
"Since the last asphalt round in Bulgaria, I've been working hard at trying to improve my performance at driving on tarmac and did some testing in France last week. The last two times I've competed at this event, I finished ninth and twelfth so I hope I can improve on these results and finish comfortably inside the top ten this year. I like the open, flowing stages at this event but find it difficult on the military ranges -- the 48km stage on the Saturday is going to be brutal and a real test of endurance. Tyre choice is also critical and with some lengthy stages in the rally this year, this will be an important factor to take into consideration each day. I've just completed a 24 hour challenge across the Lake District with Scott [Martin] and Barry [Johnson] so my fitness levels are high at the moment -- this should help me prepare for the long days and keep me focused throughout."
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Francois Duval said:
"It's great to be back driving a Ford Focus RS WRC for the Stobart M-Sport Ford team in Germany. I finished testing yesterday and was very impressed with the car -- it handles very well in the fast sections. I'll be doing some more testing on Sunday and Monday so I've managed to get lots of practice in which is very important considering I've not competed in rally car since November 2009. I've had some good results at the rally in the past and the stages are very similar to Belgium which is always a good confidence boost. However, there is little doubt that Rallye Deutschland is a very difficult rally -- not just because of the roads but because of the weather. Trier and the surrounding area is well known for big showers and rain storms, which can make the roads very slippery without much warning. I'm just looking to drive to the best of my ability and hope that I can produce some points for the team."
Stobart M-Sport Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson said:
"I'm delighted to welcome Francois to the Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team -- he's a very competent driver and will strengthen the team at a crucial stage of the season. Last time, Francois was in Germany he produced a podium finish for the team so it'd be fantastic if we could achieve this again. Rallye Deutschland is like three different rallies rolled into one -- the stages are all very different and the 48km stage is going to be extremely tough on our drivers. Weather is also a very crucial factor in this rally so hopefully the forecast will be kind on the Stobart team next week. Matthew has been in Germany three times before so he will have good experience at what is one of the season's most challenging events."