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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 November 2005, 05:53 GMT
Duval holds on for Aussie victory
Belgium's Francois Duval and Sven Smeets
Belgium's Francois Duval and Sven Smeets celebrate victory
Belgium's Francois Duval won his first World Rally Championship event in the Rally Australia on Sunday.

The Citroen driver finished in three hours 19 minutes 55 seconds, just under 53 seconds faster than Harri Rovanpera of Finland in a Mitsubishi.

Manfred Stohl of Austria in a Citroen was third overall.

A brave bid for a podium finish by Colin McRae came to an abrupt end when his Skoda suffered clutch problems with three stages to go.

The 37-year-old, who had reported gearbox problems earlier in the race, was in third place when he withdrew.

I hope it will be easier for me to win rallies now that I've won my first one
Francois Duval

McRae said: "I'm very disappointed - more for the team than myself. We would have been either second or third."

Fellow Briton and Ford driver Mark Higgins finished 10th overall.

Duval took over the lead from Petter Solberg on day two after the Norwegian hit a kangaroo on the second stage.

The 25-year-old Duval, who joined Citroen this year after two seasons at Ford, has spent much of the season in the shadow of world champion team-mate Sebastien Loeb.

"I'm very happy to win my first rally," Duval told the World Rally website. "It was quite difficult for me because there was quite a big fight behind.

"It's impossible to say what will happen in the future, but I hope it will be easier for me to win rallies now that I've won my first one."

Marcus Gronholm was knocked out on Friday with suspension damage after hitting a rock.

And Loeb of France, who had already clinched the drivers' title after winning 10 races, also retired from the rally on Friday when his car hit a tree.


Rally Australia final standings:

1. Francois Duval, Belgium, Citroen, 3 hours, 19 minutes, 55.0 seconds.
2. Harri Rovanpera, Finland, Mitsubishi, 3:20.47.9.
3. Manfred Stohl, Austria, Citroen, 3:21.28.0.
4. Chris Atkinson, Australia, Subaru, 3:21.34.0.
5. Gigi Galli, Italy, Mitsubishi, 3:22.59.4.
6. Roman Kresta, Czech Republic, Ford, 3:23.04.0.
7. Dani Sola, Spain, Ford, 3:25.32.4.
8. Armin Schwarz, Germany, Skoda, 3:27.59.3.
9. Toshi Arai, Japan, Subaru, 3:35.38.2.
10. Mark Higgins, Britain, Ford, 3:37.24.8.



WORLD RALLY 2005


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SEE ALSO
Duval leads after Solberg crash
12 Nov 05 |  Rallying
McRae third as Loeb crashes out
11 Nov 05 |  Rallying


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