Former World Rally Championship star Francois Duval will return to competition on the Sanremo Rally, the penultimate round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on September 24-26.
The Belgian will replace Finland's Anton Alen in the factory Abarth squad alongside Giandomenico Basso. Abarth is also fielding its Italian Championship team alongside the regular IRC line-up in Sanremo, in a bid to repeat its victory of last year with Basso.
Duval's last IRC outing, on his native Belgium Ypres Rally in June, ended in disaster when he crashed a Skoda Fabia S2000 into retirement on the first corner of the rally. However, he impressed on his last event with an Abarth Grande Punto: the 2008 Rally Portugal. The 28-year-old was holding a strong second place before retiring with a mechanical problem.
"I'm looking forward to Sanremo, but it will be very difficult as there are going to be a lot of local specialists there," said Duval. "I will do my best, but there's no question of doing what happened in Ypres again."
Duval will test the Abarth Grande Punto, which benefits from some recent engine evolutions, for a day before the rally start.