Francois Duval’s life has been governed by just one thing – Racing. Rallying truly flows through his veins. His father, Rene Duval, was a regular competitor in rallying and took part in numerous rally sprint events in Belgium. He even won the Belgian Rally Sprint Championships in 1994. It was inevitable that with so many rallying influences surrounding Francois from a young age that he would also end up in rallying.
At the timid age of 6, he was out there riding a 50cc quad-bike. He started driving karts at near about the same time. He competed in the Belgian and European karting championships in his teen years, while simultaneously improving on his loose surface skills on quad-bikes. He competed in quad racing as well and ended up winning the Belgian Championships for small capacity quads in 1995, and for large-engine quads in 1997 and 1998.
He finally got a chance to debut in a rally when he was called up for Belgium’s Citroen Saxo Challenge, claiming a podium position on his very first outing. He went on to score four fabulous wins and a second place, to clinch the championship.
Duval, during his championship winning performance in the Belgian Rally Championships in 2000, joined the Mitsubishi Marlboro Junior Racing Team as well. He drove a Group N Lancer on three other European rallies – Luxembourg, Cypress and Condroz. In 2001, Duval contested 17 rallies and with reliable cars, he was almost unbeatable. He was always well placed and extremely fast whenever his ride responded well. With Mitsubishi, he went through Luxembourg again and then took part in the Portuguese, Cyprian and Australian rounds of the World Rally Championships. However, a majority of the season was spent in driving around a Ford Puma, in the inaugural season of the Super 1600 category of the World Rally Championships. This race later became known as the Junior World Rally Championships.
In 2002, Francois became a part of an expanded factory programme with the Ford Rallye Sport team. He mainly drove a Puma Super 1600 in the Junior Championships, but moved up to a Ford Focus RS WRC on five rounds of the WRC. His best result was a 10th place result on the Swedish Rally. Ford responded to his 2002 season performance by rewarding Duval with a full season of driving for the Ford Rallye Sport team in the World Rally Championships, in 2003. Francois Duval had a decent season that included a strong third placed finish on the Rally of Turkey. He stayed with Ford in 2004 and ended the season even better. He had five podium finishes that took him to sixth in the standings at the end of the season.
Duval’s time with Ford came to an end and in 2005, Citroen was the team for him. The season didn’t give Duval much to write home about, up until the last round of the Championships in Australia. Duval drove away with an incredible rally victory at the final stage of the year. Despite the promising finish to the 2005 season, the team didn’t give him a full time driving position during 2006 and 2007.
He participated in just 8 rallies, with the Skoda team, in 2006 and 2007 put together. However, towards the end of 2007, he moved to Citroen for three more events. His finishes included a second place finish in Germany.
After failing to hold onto a full time racing spot at Citroen, Duval returns to the Ford Team for the 2008 season. He will be a part of the Stobart VK M-Sport rally team and will be driving the Ford Focus RS WRC2007 for them. With a strong car and a stronger team, Francois may just be looking ahead to an eventful and pleasant year.
Related news & articles
Monday November 17
Francois Duval confirmed that he would contest the final round of the FIA World Rally championship, the Wales Rally GB. More
Monday November 10
Patrick Pivato, co-driver of Francois Duval underwent a series of operations in Sapporo, Japan, after suffering internal bleeding from their accident on stage 6. More
Wednesday October 1
BP-Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver Mikko Hirvonen has said that the 2008 championship title will be decided based on his results of the upcoming asphalt rallies, but they do not necessarily depend on his winning each rally. More
Monday August 18
Francois Duval made it to the top after Thursday’s pre-event shakedown, which offered teams the last chance to fine tune their machines before the rally’s start on Friday morning. More