Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has insisted he was 'satisfied' with third at the end of Rally Finland on Saturday, even if he did finish over 25 seconds off the winner, and 15.9 seconds off his 'new' team-mate, Sebastien Ogier.
Indeed although Loeb saw his lead in the drivers' championship cut slightly – with Ogier gaining a few points by finishing one place in front – the record-breaking multiple WRC champion remains well on course for that seventh crown, 52 points ahead with just five rounds to go.
"Bravo to Jari-Matti and Sébastien who drove great rallies today," Loeb reflected. "It's good for the sport that the team didn't give any orders at the end of the race [so that I could finish in P2]. The fifteen points I scored today are a precious help in view of the championship. I've achieved my aim in this rally.
"The goal was to score points but not necessarily to win. I had to fight to come back and beat Petter [Solberg for P3]. I did okay though, especially as this is not my rally. Third place is not bad for the championship."
Pressed on what he meant by saying it was 'not his rally', Loeb conceded that this event is probably one of the most difficult on the schedule. He also added that his problem on day one, when he damaged his front bumper, effectively ended his hopes of trying to repeat his Rally Finland victory from 2007.
"It's a lot of fun to drive here but I've won it only one time. Here you have to be on the limit and the Finnish drivers are strong. They defend very strongly their home rally. For me to fight here I have to take more risks and today I was not in the position to do it. I am satisfied with the result."
"Sure I prefer to win," he continued, "but my priority was points for the Championship. If I can fight for the win I will try. But on the first day I lost time in stage three, four and five when I broken the bumper. Then I was a bit far from the lead. I know in Finland to take some seconds it can be very difficult; I had to balance that and take the right choice."
Team-mate Sebastien Ogier in contrast was delighted with his runners-up spot, especially as this was his first event running at part of the Citroen 'A' team, and only his second Rally Finland in a World Rally Car.
"I am very happy with this result," Ogier confirmed. "It's difficult to be happy when you are second, but Finland is very special. With my experience, this is better than I expected. Today was a very good day, although maybe I was too careful yesterday. If I knew yesterday I would be second, maybe I would have adopted another strategy.