After a brilliant run in the Rally Deutschland, Francois Duval has been informed that his days as a Ford driver will end at the end of the 2004 World Rally Championship season, leaving the young Belgian to search for a new...
After a brilliant run in the Rally Deutschland, Francois Duval has been informed that his days as a Ford driver will end at the end of the 2004 World Rally Championship season, leaving the young Belgian to search for a new ride.
This season, the 23-year-old driver currently holds down the sixth overall position in the points, only three behind two-time WRC champion Marcus Gronholm.
Duval and co-driver Stephane Prevot matched their best performance with the second step on the podium in Germany. The first time the duo placed second was behind their Ford Focus team car in Rally Mexico.
Ford is not releasing the talented Duval to replace him, they are unsure of their future in WRC competition, "If we continue in WRC next year, we would very much like to have Francois and his co-driver, Prevot on board," claimed Ford Team Director Jost Capito.
"However, as we are not in a position to give a commitment to them right now, we agreed to release him (Duval) in order not to deny him the opportunity to further his WRC career," continued Capito.
The future of Ford has been in question prior to the 2004 season. The team had a strong showing in the early rallies with Markko Martin leading the driver standings and Ford holding the top spot in the manufacturers' title.
The one-two finish in Mexico gave the team a time to celebrate. Since the debut in New Zealand of the new 2004 Focus, the team has suffered mechanical woes and crashes. Citroen holds the manufacturers' lead by an nice cushion of 29 points and Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has an edge of 29 points over Martin in the drivers' standings. By no means is Ford out of the chase.
"Francois has contributed much to Ford's WRC programme," commented Capito. "This season especially, has been a solid and consistent points scorer for the team. Ford would like to thank Francois and Stephane for their efforts and wish them both the best of luck for the future."
Duval has not commented on the release and his co-driver Prevot will not be available as he will not compete in Rally Japan this weekend due to a death in his family.