Abarth driver Giandomenico Basso won the Sanremo Rally for the first time in his career, having led almost throughout the historic Italian event.
The third and final day of the rally consisted of four stages, split into two loops of two with a service on the seafront in Sanremo in between. Weather conditions remained dry, although the day got off to a cloudy start, and, having recently claimed victory on the previous IRC round, in Spain, Basso underlined the speed and reliability of his Grande Punto with another flawless run on home soil, taking the lead on the 59.66km Ronde stage on Thursday night and not relinquishing it.
The victory moved the Italian up to second place in the overall IRC standings with two rounds left to run.
"I'm very happy to win this event for the first time in my career," Basso commented, "It's been an extremely tough three days, even tougher than I thought, but luckily we've got a great car, a great team, and some fantastic support from all the people out on the stages.
"We had to push very hard to get this result, but it's certainly worth all the effort. All I can do now is to continue to try my best and hope that we can keep the drivers' championship open right to the end. We've won the last two rounds, and I'm thinking that a trip to China at the end of the year could be fun..."
Second place on the event went Peugeot Belgium's Nicolas Vouilloz, which was enough to extend the Frenchman's lead in the drivers' standings to 18 points, although dropped scores still have to be taken into account.
Vouilloz had to work hard for second, however, and only claimed the spot after a dramatic fightback on the final day. Having started in fourth position, behind team-mate Freddy Loix, he managed to overhaul the Belgian on the first stage, before then getting past Peugeot Italy's Luca Rossetti on the penultimate test to move into second at the finish. His result also wrapped up the 2008 manufacturers' title for Peugeot.
"The quality of the opposition here seems to get stronger every year, so we're very pleased to get second place," Vouilloz admitted, "To go one better would mean winning the event, but that's an extremely difficult proposition.
"I'm very happy with our performance here, but now we have to start taking dropped scores into account as only the best seven from ten count. In terms of the drivers' championship then, we've only made a limited amount of progress, which should certainly make life interesting over the rest of the season!"
Rossetti, the winner in Sanremo last year, was more than happy with third place, as this enabled him to claim his first Italian Championship title. The Peugeot driver experienced a few set-up problems that caused understeer on the opening two days, but just concentrated on bringing his car home safely during the final day.