Frenchman Sebastien Loeb claimed a record sixth successive world rally championship by winning the title-deciding British round in Cardiff on Sunday.
Finn Mikko Hirvonen led Loeb by a single point going into the race, with the French driver's Citroen team having already wrapped up the manufacturers' crown in Spain this month. "I'm really happy for this one because Mikko is strong," the 35-year-old Loeb told World Rally Championship radio after taking the crown by one point. "It was an incredible battle all season.
"A sixth title is awesome. Today was tough mentally as Mikko gave everything. It's been a season of highs and lows ... and it's a huge moment."
Loeb clinched a record 54th rally victory, from Ford driver Hirvonen and Spain's Dani Sordo (Citroen), by 66 seconds but was helped enormously after the Finn suffered a mishap on the third of Sunday's four stages. Having pegged back the Frenchman's overnight lead from 30 to 18 seconds, Hirvonen was forced to stop when his bonnet flipped up, costing him a minute.
The Finn, who had to make do with second place in the race and the overall standings, said: "I need to go back to work and try to find more speed for next year.”