Qatar M-Sport WRT's Mads Ostberg
revealed that his confidence had been at an all time low over the five-week summer break between WRC events, and that his strong showing in Rally Finland was just the tonic he needed - even if a late scare on Saturday cost him the chance of second place at the end.
Ostberg had been challenging Sebastien Ogier
for the outright race lead until well into day 2, when he suffered a deflated left front tyre during SS14 stemming from a broken rim on his Ford Fiesta RS.
"Unbelievable," he said afterwards, still unsure about exactly where or how the damage had happened during the stage. "It's just a lottery now, with ruts everywhere.
"It's a pity to finish the day while losing time because of a puncture especially as I don't know how it occurred," he continued. "I just felt I was losing some pressure in the tyre and I was thus obliged to slow down."
The Norwegian knew that this was the end of his hopes of challenging for the race win, barring Ogier suffering from a mishap of his own at the front. "When you see how difficult it is to catch up one or two seconds I think I won't be able to catch up but I will push until the end to keep some pressure on Ogier."
But as the race went into the final day, Ostberg's attention was turned to a thrilling knife-edge battle for second place with his M-Sport team mate Thierry Neuville that lasted through to the penultimate stage, the second and final run of the event through the iconic 33km Ouninpohja.
"It's a very fast section at the end of the stage - fast and narrow: slightly uphill braking to a third-gear right," explained Ostberg of what happened next. "I braked and turned and when I got back on the throttle I saw a massive rock on the line, actually it was further out than the line.
"I knew if I hit that then definitely it would end the rally, but if I go around it then something could also probably happen," he continued. "I tried to go around it and for a moment I thought I would pass and continue. But I hit something on the exit and we spin for 180 degrees."
That cost Ostberg 20 seconds on Neuville, and with only one final power stage remaining it meant that the order of the podium positions was effectively decided. "I understand immediately that second is not possible and from then on it was all about hoping the car was okay and that we could get to the end."