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Duval Facing Difficult Challenge

Belgian driver Francois Duval has returned to the World Rally Championship in Argentina this morning, emerging from the pre-event shakedown stage unscathed - and faster than teammate Sebastien Loeb

Duval missed the last two rallies, having been dropped from the team after a spate of early season crashes in his Xsara WRC. Duval admitted he has missed the competition and is glad to be back.

"It's a new challenge for me," said the 24-year-old. "Now I am starting with a new co-driver (Sven Smeets), but this is not an easy event to come back to - it's going to be very difficult. Sven is Belgian, but he speaks a different language to me. He speaks Flemish, I don't. We will see."

Duval's future within the team now rests in his own hands. Team boss Guy Frequelin has requested that he finish fourth or fifth without going off the road.

"I haven't driven much recently," Duval added. "I did two days in Finland with Sven, but there was only four or five corners on the road we were using - that's not like here; it's very twisty here. The plan is for me to stay on the road here and stay with the team for the rest of the season."

Loeb's event didn't get off to the perfect start as the team was forced to change the engine in his Xsara WRC before shakedown this morning. When the car was fired up, the engineers noticed a minor oil leak.

The engine change is penalty-free because this is the first rally of a pair of two. If the team had changed it at shakedown for Rally GB (the second event for this engine) a 60-second penalty would have been incurred.

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