Francois Duval Sumar
Since his early childhood, Francois Duval was in contact with rallying when his father - Renť Duval - competed in many Belgian events. His father even became the 1994 Belgian Rally Sprint Champion, driving a Toyota GT Four.
It was only natural for Francois to follow in his father's footsteps. In 1999, Duval had his first experience in rallying with the support of his father. That same year, Francois took part to the "CitroŽn Saxo Challenge". He finished third
in his very first race in the championship. The rest of the season was just as positive and Duval won the championship and received notable awards, including "Golden Helmet" and "Rookie of the year" by the RACB.
Duval joined the Mitsubishi Marlboro Junior Team in 2000. He competed in three events of the division 1 Belgian Championship at the wheel of a Group N Mitsubishi and won the 'Rallye de Wallonie'. He also participated to the division 2 national championship in a Celica 4WD and despite many mechanical problems, the young driver's potential was noticed by the experts.
In 2001, Francois' career took a turn for the better when he signed a contract with Ford. The Belgian drove in a few rounds of the World Rally Championship at the wheel of a Ford Puma Super 1600. Once again his talent was noticed and Francois was chosen to test a Focus WRC.
Duval drove the Ford Puma Super 1600 in 2002 as well and won the first race of the season (Monte Carlo) in his category. Duval's reputation as a young promising driver kept on growing despite the fact that the rest of the season was much more difficult and included many retirements.
At only 22 years of age, Duval signed a four-year contract to compete in the Ford Rallye Sport team at the wheel of a Focus WRC. Francois's first year in the team was a learning experience but it didn't stop him from getting commendable results, including two podium finishes in Turkey and Corsica.
Still under contract with the British team, Francois Duval continued to impress with excellent results in 2004. Two second places (Mexico, Germany), three third positions (Monte Carlo, Argentina and Australia) and a sixth place in the drivers' championship at the end of the season.
Impressed by Duval's progress, CitroŽn Sport appointed the young Belgian to become Sebastien Loeb's teammate in 2005.