Sebastien Ogier, who secured his debut win in Portugal last time out, was next up and fourth. He had been running second early on, but lost time in SS3, when he misheard a pace-note and lost over a minute. That dropped him back to seventh, but he fought back to beat the 'works' Ford's and give Citroen a 1-2-3-4 formation finish.
"We've shown as of now that we're able to fight for a podium on asphalt, which is extremely promising for the rest of the season," said Ogier. "Now we're going to concentrate on the forthcoming Rally Finland."
The BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team had a difficult event with Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala unable to challenge the Citroen C4 WRCs. Hirvonen and Latvala ended the opening day more than a minute off the lead and then lost more ground on Saturday with the wrong tyre choice on the first loop.
Hirvonen finished up 1 minute 22.8 seconds off Ogier, and more than 2.5 minutes off the battle for second in fifth, while Latvala took sixth, another minute further back following power steering problems on the second loop on day two.
"I had a good feeling with the car and enjoyed the stages, which were extremely fast in places. But the times weren't as good as we hoped, so we have to keep working hard to improve," Hirvonen said. "With no chance of moving up today, we tested a few things for future rallies. Today was better and I think we learned something that will help on the remaining asphalt rallies."
Latvala added: "It was a difficult weekend but I had a clear run and made no mistakes. I can take confidence from finishing after my retirement in Portugal on the last round."
Further down the order, Per-Gunnar Andersson was seventh on his debut outing with the Stobart Ford team. He put in a respectable performance and increased his pace as he got more familiar with his Focus RS WRC.
"I really enjoyed myself this weekend and by Saturday, I was feeling much more confident with the handling of the car," said P-G. "I was really pleased with some of my split times on both Saturday and today. I had a few minor problems with my pace notes this morning but drove safe this afternoon to ensure I wouldn't make any silly mistakes that could cost me valuable time. I'm just really happy with how everything went and delighted to have been given the chance to drive the [Ford] Focus for this event."
Frigyes Turan rounded out the top eight in his Peugeot 307 WRC, ahead of Britain's Matthew Wilson and Henning Solberg, who was using a Ford Fiesta Super 2000.
"I struggled this weekend as it took me longer than I thought to get used to the feeling of driving on tarmac," Wilson reflected. "It's been a long time since I'd driven on asphalt and the stages here are very, very fast. It's been a good learning curve for me.