Before the final section, just over 34 kilometres from Stiliccione to Marati, in the mountains south of Ajaccio, McRae was seven seconds behind Sainz in second place. His aggressive driving on wet asphalt gained 15 seconds on his rival in the final stretch alone.
"I would have preferred dry conditions because we didn't do much testing with the rain tyres but it was OK," McRae said. "I didn't have much choice anyway. My only option was to attack."
Sainz had to settle for second overall, eight seconds behind, while Gilles Panizzi, of France, came third, a further 30 seconds back in his Peugeot 306. There was disappointment for Panizzi's team-mate Francois Delecour, who shared the lead with Sainz overnight. Hampered by a wrong choice of tyres and clutch problems, Delecour lost ground to end up fourth, 55 seconds behind the leader.
McRae, who had been looking for a win since taking the Safari Rally in Kenya in March, retained second place in the world championship but is now only two points behind the leader, Tommi Makinen of Finland. Makinen, the world champions, withdrew from the rally when his Mitsubishi Lancer hit a cow on Tuesday.
McRae's victory made up for a frustrating run in last month's Catalunya Rally, where he was fighting for the lead when a puncture forced him to drop to fourth place.
This year's Tour of Corsica, made tricky by occasional downpours, was marked by another fine performance from the lightweight, two-wheel drive Peugeots, which matched the massive four-wheel drive cars. Panizzi was in the lead after the first day on Monday and, on Tuesday, Delecour and Panizzi were joint first and third respectively.Reuse content