"I have been pushing very hard since yesterday and today I turned it up a further notch," he noted. "I honestly drove the final stage as though victory depended on it. It was a near-perfect run, perhaps one of the best of my career."
Harri Rovanpera gave Mitsubishi another solid finish with fifth, while his team-mate, Gilles Panizzi also ended up in the points, eighth overall.
"I'm happy with fifth place but it was a very tough rally. We drove as hard as we could today; it was hard enough to get past Gardemeister but not fast enough to stay ahead of Loeb," he commented.
Ford's Toni Gardemeister was the big loser today, dropping from an overnight fourth to sixth. The Finn though has not felt confident throughout the event, and he has also been suffering as he has the flu.
"I couldn't have driven any faster," he revealed. "I was flat out all the way. I'm a little disappointed with my final position but happy that we finished in the points."
Antony Warmbold was seventh in the only other remaining Focus, the German holding off Panizzi by just 0.7sec after a thrilling final stage showdown to secure his best WRC result to date.
Skoda's Armin Schwarz and Jani Paasonen both completed the event, in ninth and 13th respectively, the latter re-starting on Saturday, after crashing out on SS2. The new Fabia though, while reliable, still seems to lack speed and that is something they will be focusing on prior to New Zealand.
"I'm happy that we had no major technical problems associated with the new car but we must find more speed if we are to get the results we are seeking," stated Skoda boss, Martin Muehlmeier.
In the Junior WRC, Guy Wilks kept going to come out top, the Brit some 9 minutes up on his Suzuki team-mate, Per-Gunnar Andersson, who took advantage of the new SupeRally format to re-start this morning, and secure second place and the eight points that go with it.
Luca Cecchettini and Pavel Valousek were third and fourth respectively, both also benefiting from the new regulations, while Conrad Rautenbach
was forced to pull out of the event on Saturday. Only 5 Junior drivers elected to make the trip to across the Atlantic.