Then on the final day the second-run through Bitche Camp [SS19] - the long stage of the day - had to be cancelled due to spectator problems and so I didn't have the chance to try and really pressurise him. It was a shame, but there is no point thinking about ifs and buts.
Furthermore while my best overall result on asphalt remains the third I took in Ireland back in 2007, what was encouraging at the finish was not only my fastest stage times, but also the fact the gap to Sebastien Loeb
– the winner - was the smallest I have ever managed on asphalt.
I'd like to have been a bit more consistent and sometimes I did a really good stage time and then on the next test I lost out to the top guys. But towards the end of the rally the consistency was coming.
Overall it was important I managed to set some fastest stage times because that gives us all confidence the work we have done with the car on asphalt has been successful. We have made progress and made the car go faster.
Looking back on the new-look Rallye de France it was a pretty good event. The number of spectators was sensational and it reminded me a lot of Rally Finland in that respect. People were all over the place and it was fantastic to see the passion in the Alsace region for the WRC.
The stages weren't bad either. Some were very nice with a lot of character and while there were a few small mistakes - and details that need to be improved - that is only normal for an event hosting a round of the WRC for the first time.
Overall when you saw how much interest there was it gave everybody a good feeling. Of course a lot of that support was for home star Sebastien Loeb
and it was a great event for him. My congratulations go to him on taking his seventh WRC title. It is a great number and confirms him again as the best man in rallying history.
The championship is not over though, there is still two rounds to go and the fight for the vice-champions spot has still to be decided.
I am still in contention for second and while 22 points to Sebastien Ogier
is a lot and means it is not going to be easy, I am not going to give up. If there is a chance you need to keep fighting and that is what I intend to do. I can't ignore Petter though, and he is a threat, 11 points adrift of me in P4.
My target pre-season was to finish in the top-three in the championship because the last two years I have been fourth and I really want to make sure I achieve that, so I will be going all out for it in Spain in three weeks time.