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François Duval has confirmed he will contest next month’s final round of the FIA World Rally Championship – Wales Rally GB – with WRC expert Denis Giraudet on the notes.

Duval’s entry now confirms a six-strong Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team contingent as he is joined by Matthew Wilson (second nominated point scorer), Henning Solberg, Barry Clark Dave Weston and Steve Perez, all driving Ford Focus RS WRC cars.

Giraudet joins Duval after an accident in Japan saw regular co-driver Patrick Pivato hospitalised and placed in intensive care. Fortunately Pivato recovered from his critical condition and is currently on a flight back to Lyon where he will be transported to hospital for the final operation to set his broken pelvis.

During the ordeal in Japan, Giraudet was one of the first on the accident scene and, as a good friend of Patrick’s, did not hesitate to accompany him and Duval to the hospital to help with the situation. Despite all this, the Frenchman still managed to rush back to the Sapporo dome to complete the final two super special stages with PWRC driver Eyvind Brynildsen before returning back to hospital where his friend was undergoing surgery.

It is a tremendous showing of admiration to both Pivato and Duval that Giraudet has offered to co-drive for the Belgian driver. Duval began to question whether he was psychologically fit enough to enter Wales Rally GB after the incident in Japan, but the new partnership with Giraudet seems like the most appropriate one for the situation, given the events which have affected both of their lives over the past two weeks.

The Stobart team also appreciate the acceptance of the decision by Brynildsen who was set to be partnered by Giraudet on the Welsh event but kindly agreed to let him partner Duval on this rather unique and special occasion.

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said: “This is a great gesture by Denis and I believe that François couldn’t have a better person sitting next to him for GB considering what they both went through in Japan. Denis will also bring a wealth of experience with him and his presence will give François more confidence than anyone else. I’m also looking forward to him building on his last performance from Rally GB in 2006 which really impressed me.”

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