The Frenchman Sebastien Ogier secured his second victory at World Rally Championship level yesterday as he sealed the win in the final stage in Japan.
Ogier had gone into the final day trailing fellow Citroen driver Petter Solberg but rallied to came out on top following the superspecial stage in the Sapporo Dome.
The Citroen Total team driver was one of four competitors who entered the final day separated by 15 seconds. The 26-year-old, racing in the Japanese event for the first time, won by 15.7 seconds from Solberg after the Norwegian's private entry Citroen suffered a steering problem in the closing stages.
Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala finished 10.3secs further back in third and Citroen's Dani Sordo was another 9.2secs back. World championship leader Sebastien Loeb was a distant 53.3secs behind the winner but still remains on course to retain his title as he leads Ogier by 43 points with just three races of the season remaining.
Ogier's win meant that Loeb could not wrap up a seventh consecutive world title in Japan and he will have to wait until his home round in France next month for his next chance to secure the series win.
Ogier, who had started the final day in third place, said: "I knew it was a difficult rally because I don't like stages that are very rough. But quickly I found a good rhythm."
Solberg had risen from ninth on day one to take the lead but a steering problem on the 23rd stage dropped him back. Solberg admitted: "I was terrible at the start of the rally. But I had a very good feeling. It's just unfortunate we had a problem with the car."
Ford's Mikko Hirvonen also suffered technical problems and finished sixth. The next four places were also filled by Ford drivers as Henning Solberg led home Federico Villagra, Jari Ketomaa and Martin Prokop.