Sebastien Loeb was able to enjoy the perfect end to his latest World Rally Championship title winning season after securing victory in the season ending Wales Rally GB.
Despite his remarkable run of five straight drivers' titles, Loeb headed into the season finale seeking his first victory in the Welsh forests, with a win on Rally GB being one of the few things missing from his resume.
Running first on the road through day one, Loeb was faced with icy conditions that led to much of the competitive stage mileage being cancelled but remained in contention towards the head of the field in what became a two-way fight for victory with Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala.
Latvala led into the final day but Loeb took victory on all four stages to overhaul his rival for victory, although he suffered a scare after being given a penalty for jumping the start on SS18 – a decision that was later reversed.
"It has always been in the back of my mind that I haven't won this rally," he said. "This is the perfect end to my year - and a great relief. It has been a good journey and a really good way to end the season like this. It is incredible and good for the rally to have such a close fight with Jari-Matti.
"After making sure of our fifth title in Japan, Daniel and I are really happy to have enabled Citroen to take the Manufacturers world crown again, too. There couldn't be a better reward for this team and the fantastic season it has put in. The added bonus of winning this weekend's highly complex event is the icing on the cake.
"The regulations which ban gravel note crews and which dictate a single type of tyre made this rally an extremely perilous exercise. To have succeeded in steering clear of all the potential pitfalls to finally finish ahead of our rivals is tremendously satisfying."
Loeb's win was a record-breaking eleventh of the season, but despite his domination of the campaign, he admitted it hadn't been an easy title victory.
"No it hasn't been easy at all," he said. "When you look from outside, for sure we won eleven out of 15 events but we had to work very hard for those victories and that is something that you don't really understand if you are not following every stage.
"On some stages I won only by one second and I tried to push really hard to get those fast times. With drivers like Jari-Matti pushing harder every year and with Mikko going well all season this year it is never easy. But thankfully at the end everything came right for us."