In the end the Finn was lucky to hang on to second too after problems in Port Talbot 2, when he lost the bonnet on his Focus.
“The bonnet pin was the last of our problems. To be honest I lost the rally yesterday when I could not get the speed but that's life,” Hirvonen reflected philosophically. “We had the best performance ever up until then and I know for sure Seb has been under pressure from me all the way through.
“This was definitely the best year I have had but it has been a disappointing end. All I can do now is try again next year.”
Dani Sordo was next up and completed the podium, just 1 second off P2 after Hirvonen's issues in SS15. The Spaniard enjoyed a good battle with Petter Solberg on Friday, before pulling away and eventually finishing 21 seconds ahead.
“It has been a great day and a great Championship. I am really happy with today and delighted for Sebastien,” Sordo stated. “I was pushing to keep ahead of Mikko but never mind, he held it together. What a rally!”
Petter was also happy and the Norwegian was content to round off the year with fourth - especially as it was only his second competitive outing in a Citroen C4 WRC and his first with it gravel.
“It has been a long journey but I am very pleased really. Maybe I should have done a bit more testing before the rally but to be honest the whole rally has been fantastic and thank you to Citroen for this opportunity,” said Solberg, who of course had to compete with his own team this year after Subaru pulled out.
“I tried today to beat Sordo but it has been tough. Even so, I am happy. This weekend has been fantastic and I really hope to battle for the Championship next year.”
Further down the order, Sebastien Ogier looked on course for fifth until he rolled in the penultimate stage. The Frenchman was not pleased.
“We went off about two kilometres into stage,” he explained. “I think one of the cars in front may have hit a bank and bought some rocks onto the track. I couldn't not go around them and that's it, rally over.”
Ogier's misfortune promoted Stobart Ford duo Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson up to fifth and sixth respectively, and both are hoping to return now in 2010.
“I have had a good season and I hope to be in the Championship next year,” Henning stated.