Mikko also gained another position post-event when Petter was excluded - something that puts him third and now means he has scored exactly the same amount of points as Loeb.
“This weekend has been really difficult for us and I only want to think of the points that we have taken for the championship,” Mikko said. “We are back in the battle for the title after Loeb's retirement.”
Meanwhile, Sordo was absolutely spectacular for MINI and led after day one and mid-day through day two. He also set four quickest stage times in the John Cooper Works WRC car en-route
to the runners-up spot and second best in the Power Stage. Indeed in the end Sordo managed 19 top-three times from a possible 23, remarkable given this is the new MINI's team's only fourth WRC event – and second on asphalt.
“It's our best result with the MINI,” said Sordo. “We have been able to fight for victory and it's very encouraging. The good thing is that the next rally will be in Spain [my home country].”
Petter Solberg also had a great event and was right in the thick of the battle for the victory until that puncture on Saturday. He finished third, but sadly was excluded after the finish when his privately-run DS3 WRC car was found to be 4 kg underweight.
Latvala might also have challenged for the win, but for losing so much time on Friday in SS3. He fought back however and won five of the final day's six stages, including taking his very first Power Stage win. He was classified fourth.
“If I want to be a good asphalt driver, then I must learn and this is the day that I learned and raised my pace,” Latvala noted. “We've made progress since the last asphalt round in Germany and I'm increasingly confident with the car.
“It was my best performance on asphalt. I made some mistakes and I wasn't consistent enough, so I still I need to sustain pace and consistency for the whole rally, but it's just about fine-tuning. I was hesitant on asphalt before but I'm not afraid of it anymore.”
FERM Power Tools man Dennis Kuipers was next up and rounded out the top five, a career-best result for the Dutchman, with M-Sport Stobart Ford duo Henning Solberg and Mad Ostberg sixth and seventh.
Of the rest, Monster WRT man Ken Block scored his first points of the year with P8, while Pierre Compana was ninth in his privately entered MINI John Cooper Works WRC car and Matthew Wilson tenth, one spot in front of SWRC winner, Ott Tanak.