After returning to the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time since 2008, Stobart M-Sport Ford's Fran0x00e7ois Duval and co-driver Denis Giraudet, steadily chased the front-runners to climb up into the top five on the second day of Rallye...
After returning to the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time since 2008, Stobart M-Sport Ford's Fran0x00e7ois Duval and co-driver Denis Giraudet, steadily chased the front-runners to climb up into the top five on the second day of Rallye Deutschland. However, a roll on the day's final stage meant that Duval's hopes for a top five finish were ended as he was forced to retire from the rally.
The 29-year-old Belgian driver was on flying form this morning as he completed SS8 fifth-fastest, just 1.3 seconds adrift of BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala. Duval who is driving a Ford Focus RS WRC completed all four stages on Saturday morning quicker than both Mikko Hirvonen and Kimi R0x00e4ikk0x00f6nen and on SS11 he produced the fourth-quickest stage time, only 2.3 seconds behind the current FIA World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb.
Taking advantage of Mikko Hirvonen's retirement on SS13, Duval moved into the top five on the WRC leader board. However, on the final Panzerplatte 48 km test at the end of the day, Duval took a right hand corner too fast and rolled his Ford Focus RS WRC approximately 7km from the end of the stage. Duval and Giraudet walked away from the car unaided and went for a routine check up at hospital - the duo will not return under SupeRally regulations for the final day of Rallye Deutschland.
After Duval's misfortune, Matthew Wilson and co-driver Scott Martin led the way for the Cumbrian based squad as the duo produced a series of consistent stage times and the ongoing battle with Kimi R0x00e4ikk0x00f6nen for sixth position on the WRC leader board continued.
Wilson's lack of experience on the hard compound Pirelli PZero tyres and problems with his brakes on the afternoon pass meant that R0x00e4ikk0x00f6nen gradually widened the gap between the two WRC rivals. Wilson finished the treacherous 48 km stage 20.2 seconds quicker than he did in the morning loop but this quick stage time failed to secure his sixth place finish as the 23-year-old pulled into service at the end of Day Two 19.5 seconds behind R0x00e4ikk0x00f6nen.
The fight between the 23-year-old driver and the former Formula One Champion for sixth position will continue tomorrow when the WRC drivers will tackle 85.69 km of competitive distance on the final day of Rallye Deutschland.
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
"I'm going to push hard tomorrow to try and catch up on Kimi [R0x00e4ikk0x00f6nen] -- I really want my sixth place position back. My best chances are in the first two stages -- we've been doing our best on the morning pass so if I can beat Kimi, I think it will be in SS15 and SS16. I'm disappointed that my team-mate Fran0x00e7ois [Duval] crashed in the final stage, he had been doing so well and it was good to see him catching up on the front-runners. Scott [Martin] and I were worried when we drove past their car on the stage as we didn't see Denis [Giraudet] but I've since been told that he's fine. Fran0x00e7ois waved us on in the stage -- I'm just glad that they are both OK."
Stobart M-Sport Ford driver Fran0x00e7ois Duval said:
"What can I say? I'm very disappointed to have to retire -- everything had been going so well for us today and I'd found a good rhythm and some stage times that I was pleased with. I was catching up with some of the top five drivers and getting more and more confident as the rally went on. I'd been pushing hard to try and hold a lead over Petter [Solberg] but some understeer and a misjudged corner about 7km towards the end of the stage cause me to roll the [Ford] Focus between two hinkelsteins. The car is badly damaged on Denis' side but I do not know the state of the rest of the car as we left for a hospital check up straight after getting out of the car."