Mikko Hirvonen insisted that Ford's decision not to impose team orders on its drivers on the final stage in Sardinia had been the correct call, despite it preventing him from further closing the gap to Sebastien Loeb in the WRC standings.

Hirvonen went into the final day of the event chasing team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala and was widely expected to take the lead on the final day to take his first win of the year.

However, his position of second on the road actually worked against him as he struggled in the dust thrown up by Latvala through the stages and dropped time during the morning loop.

Admitting he had taken it easy from that point on, there was still speculation that Latvala - who had led from the first stage on Friday - could be told to slow on the final test to allow Hirvonen to secure a maximum score, although that speculation proved unfounded as Latvala duly took victory.

Second for Hirvonen allowed him to move back ahead of Dani Sordi in the championship standings, although he is still 17 points behind Sebastien Loeb at the half way stage of the campaign.

Victory would have reduced that gap by a further two points, but Hirvonen insisted it had been the right decision to allow Latvala to take victory.

"Definitely, I'm definitely happy how it ended," he said. "It doesn't leave a bad taste. Fair play, Jari-Matti drove well, he deserves it.

"Last night, I thought we had the chance to fight for the win, but this morning the dust was so bad, there was no way to fight. It was game over and the gap was almost half a minute and I knew we would have the same problem in the next stages. I played it safe.

"It's a fantastic result for the team. We haven't had consistent results for two cars, so I'm delighted."

Hirvonen insisted that the drivers' championship remains very much in reach in the second half of the season, although he admits that victories need to start arriving if he is to overhaul Loeb's lead.

"It's almost in our pocket!" he joked. "We lost important points in Argentina, but if we can start winning rallies then who knows what can happen."