Jari-Matti Latvala admitted it was an 'unbelievable feeling' to repay the faith shown in him by the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team after he secured his second WRC victory in Sardinia.
The young Finn, who has endured a tough start to the campaign and was under pressure to deliver results after his dramatic roll in Portugal, took the lead on the opening stage of the event and was able to lead from the front – making light of his position as road sweeper for the second and third days.
Indeed, his road position actually proved to be advantageous on the final day as the cars behind struggled to deal with dust hanging in the air and he eventually took victory ahead of Hirvonen to give Ford a maximum score from the weekend.
"It's an unbelievable feeling I am having now," he said at the finish. "It's been so tough and difficult – a lot has happened and I have made a lot of mistakes. I have to say big thanks to the team. They have had no doubts, even if other people did.
"I got the small things together this weekend. The secret was consistency and a little bit of luck with starting position this morning [Sunday]. It's a great feeling."
Latvala added that the result had shown that Ford is more than capable of taking the fight to Sebastien Loeb and Citroen in the title fight, although he conceded that it would need a team effort to succeed.
"We need this consistency for the future," he said. "We spoke with Mikko and when both of us are there, we can put more pressure on Citroen. When I go off the road, I load more pressure to him and we can't fight Loeb. We need to work together to get the pressure to them."
Latvala's performance also due praise from team boss Malcolm Wilson, who said he had no qualms about instructing the youngster to push for victory after he had been told to take it easy and focus simply on securing a finish on the previous event in Argentina.
"Everybody knows the potential of Jari," he said. "At least he got the opportunity of getting in the car very quickly after Portugal. In Argentina, it was really important to take a sensible approach and get kilometres under his belt. He must be the only driver in history who rings his team manager after the stage and says 'I'm sorry, I didn't intend to be fastest'.
"Him and Miikka knew what they had to do. I think Miikka and I thought maybe it wasn't the right time and he needed more time from Portugal, but it has happened and I'm pleased that when we told him to push he did.
"Credit to Mikko, he was unfortunate with the dust this morning. But this result is just what we needed, we're all very happy."