Ford WRC driver Francois Duval and co-driver Stephane Prevot will replace Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti at Citroën next year.

Ford WRC driver Francois Duval and co-driver Stephane Prevot will replace Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti at Citroën next year.

When Sainz announced before the Rally Catalunya, his home race, that he would not be racing next year, Duval was one of the first names linked to the rally veteran's seat. The Belgian was earlier released from his 2005 contract with Ford when the team could not guarantee its plans for next season.

Ford has since committed itself to competing in the World Rally Championship for the next four years and was apparently eager to offer Duval a four-year deal to lead the team.

Surprising, though, is that French outfits Peugeot and Citroën announced recently that they would retire from the WRC at the end of 2005. This makes it unlikely that Duval's new contract will extend beyond one year.

In a statement, Citroën said: "For the young Belgian driver, the move marks a return to his origins in the sport, as he began his rallying career in 1999 with victory in Belgium's Citroën Saxo Challenge."