Citroen number two driver Dani Sordo has said that he felt he progressed to a 'higher level' on the Neste Rally Finland this year, even though he ultimately finished in fourth place again, as he did in 2008.
Sordo ran strongly throughout the event, the ninth round in the 2009 World Rally Championship, and was only knocked out of the top three on Saturday afternoon, when he was overhauled by Jari-Matti Latvala.
He was then reminded about the importance of finishing and opted not to battle for 'bronze', although he was still second fastest in three of the four stages on Sunday, eventually finishing 16.2 seconds adrift of third.
"It's a shame we didn't manage to hold on to third place, but there were times when we succeeded in rivalling with the drivers who were fighting for victory," Sordo stated. "More than anywhere else, experience is vital here in Finland and I feel I progressed to a higher level on this year's event.
"Fourth overall is still a very good result for me and I am very happy with the car and the performance.
"I know I can go faster but that would have meant taking risks. So for me to finish here really helps us in the manufacturers' championship. Citroen needs points to help keep its lead and we couldn't afford to take a big risk just to gain an extra point."
Citroen Racing Director Olivier Quesnel meanwhile conceded that he expected the 1000 Lakes to be tough.
He wasn't too disappointed however, as the French manufacturer only conceded three points to Ford in the battle for the manufacturers' crown, thanks to Sordo's fourth place finish and the runners-up spot taken by number one driver, Sebastien Loeb.
Indeed while Loeb did lose ground in the drivers' race, he minimised the damage by finishing second and notching up eight points. He now lies three points behind Rally Finland winner, Mikko Hirvonen with three rounds left and 30 points still to play for.
"Of the four rounds which remained ahead of this weekend, this is the one we feared the most," Quesnel summarised.
"I think it's fair to say that we were beaten by the best man on the day. Seb and Daniel [Elena]'s performance cannot be faulted, while Dani and Marc [Marti]'s result means that we have only dropped three points in the Manufacturers' standings. We still enjoy an enviable lead of 14 points."