Ford's young Belgian ace Francois Duval powered his Rapid Fit Puma Super 1600 rally car to victory on the Rally of Kent today (Saturday). Showing remarkable pace and controlled aggression on his debut in British forest rallying, Duval claimed ...
Ford's young Belgian ace Francois Duval powered his Rapid Fit Puma Super 1600 rally car to victory on the Rally of Kent today (Saturday). Showing remarkable pace and controlled aggression on his debut in British forest rallying, Duval claimed Ford's third triumph of 2001 in the all-new Formula Rally Championship and a valuable 20 points towards the manufacturers' championship, which Ford leads. With two rounds of the series to run, Ford drivers hold strong second, third and fourth places in the drivers' title battle.
The 20-year old rally star of tomorrow was delighted to win on his forest debut in England. "I'm very pleased to claim this third victory for Ford," enthused Duval. "After the early morning stages on asphalt which were very slippery, we came back hard in the forests. I think we did well this afternoon to take the lead - and then hold on to it. I was pushing really hard to win and now I'm looking forward to returning with the Puma for Rally GB."
For this event, Ford entered three Puma Super 1600 rally cars as Duval joined regular Rapid Fit team members Martin Rowe and Patrick Magaud. Rowe, the super-fit 29-year old from Northants, recovered from early problems to set three fastest stages times and join Duval on the winners podium. Sadly, it was 42-year old Magaud's turn to suffer some ill fortune when his Puma was sidelined by an electrical problem on stage 2.
The 237-mile rally with 68 stage miles could be viewed as a three-part event, with five stages on rough asphalt on the Isle of Grain, followed by six stages through Kent forests before returning to re-run the Grain stages. Series leader Justin Dale led after five stages from Duval and Rowe - the top three covered by just 15 seconds. In the forests, the Ford duo caught and passed Dale. They returned to the afternoon service park leading the Peugeot by 21 and eight seconds respectively.
With just five short stages remaining, the scene was set for an exciting battle. Sensing victory, Duval wisely took a cautious approach, slightly slower than Rowe and Dale put still fast enough to win the rally. Rowe went 'flat out' to beat his arch rival, but damaged his Puma's suspension against a kerb and ultimately had to settle for third place and four valuable points.
Philip Dunabin, Engineering Manager at Ford Racing, was delighted to score Ford's third victory in five outings. "We are all very pleased for Francois. He has worked hard with Ford all year on the Puma Super 1600 programme and after his fine second place in Sanremo last week, this win is a great reward for his blossoming talents.
"Ford has now reclaimed leadership of the manufacturers' championship and it's really good to have such close-fought rallying in the UK. Martin Rowe still holds a strong position in the drivers' championship and we are determined to win both the Formula Rally titles this year."
<pre> RESULTS - BARRETTS RALLY OF KENT Formula Rally Championship - Round 5, 13 October 2001
1 Francois Duval / Jean Fortin Ford Puma 1 hr 19 min 27 sec 2 Justin Dale / Andrew Bargery Peugeot GTi 1 hr 19 min 31 sec. 3 Martin Rowe / Chris Woods Ford Puma 1 hr 19 min 38 sec 4 Martin Sansom / Phil Wells Peugeot GTi 1 hr 21 min 09 sec 5 Simon Mauger / Andy Street Proton 1 hr 28 min 03 sec
Championship Positions (after round 5 of 7) Drivers 1 Justin Dale 38 points. 2 Martin Rowe 30 pts. 3 Francois Duval 14 pts. 4 Patrick Magaud 11 pts. 5 Martin Sansom 9 pts. 6 Mats Andersson 8 pts. 7 Simon Mauger 6 pts. 8 David Henderson 4 pts. 9 Michael Brew 3 pts. 10 = Garry Jennings & Paul Wedgbury 2 pts. 12 = Rory Galligan & David Higgins 1 pt.
Manufacturers 1 Ford 87 points. 2 Peugeot 85 pts. 3 Proton 35 pts. 4 Volkswagen 16 pts.
Next Round: Jim Clark Rally, Duns, Scotland, 3 November.