Sebastien Loeb has hailed his victory on the Rally Finland as one of the best of his career, after he came through to take the laurels and see off the challenge of local star Mikko Hirvonen.
Loeb led the latest round in the World Rally Championship from start-to-finish in his Citroen C4 WRC car and while BP Ford Abu Dhabi's #1 driver made him work hard for the ten points, in the end, the Frenchman took P1 by 9 seconds.
In doing so, he not only put himself back within a point of re-taking the lead in the race for the 2008 drivers' title, but he also made a little bit of history, as he is only the seventh non-Finn and the fourth non-Nordic driver to win the rally in the events 58-year history.
Speaking at the finish, Loeb noted that his 42nd WRC win was a source of 'great satisfaction', especially as winning the '1000 Lakes' was on his to-do list this year.
"I'm thrilled to have won this rally and I'm especially pleased with the way we won it," he reflected. "From start to finish, the scrap reminded me of the thrilling clashes we had last year with Marcus Grönholm. It was a very close run thing throughout and we were never able to relax.
"It was really big tension and big stress all the time, flat out everywhere. At the start of the stages you knew that you couldn't make any mistakes. It was really difficult.
"It is difficult to remember all the wins I've had during my career in the WRC but this one for sure is one of the best of them. I won in Sweden in 2004 to become the only non-Scandinavian winner there but it was not the same kind of fight. Here there was a big fight and that gives you the most satisfaction."
Asked about the event more generally, the four-time world champion added that his decision not to ease off at the end of day 1 was definitely a bit of a gamble. However he didn't want to throw away the 14-odd second cushion that had been so hard to build-up, just to ensure a better road position on Saturday's second leg.
"The decision to keep the lead at the end of the opening day involved a certain amount of risk because we didn't know exactly how much road-sweeping we would have to do [on Saturday]. It meant pushing hard all the way, but the tactic finally paid off," he continued.