Peugeot Belgium driver Nicolas Vouilloz clinched the 2008 Intercontinental Rally Challenge drivers' crown on Saturday on the Rallye du Valais, the penultimate round in this year's IRC.

Vouilloz, who took the lead on the opening stage on Friday and who ended day two with an 11.7 second lead, slipped behind his team-mate, Freddy Loix late on following a day long ding-dong.

Indeed less than half a second split the two going into the final stage - the 12.3 kilometre Nendaz test, and while Vouilloz opted not to push too hard to keep P1, P2 overall was still more than enough to give him the big prize.

"I found today extremely long!" Vouilloz reflected. "I realised that the title was more or less in the bag at the end of day two when Giandomenico [Basso] punctured and there were several Peugeot drivers between us and his Abarth.

"Anything could have happen today, though, so I tried to stay focused and keep up a quick pace until the finish. In rallying, nothing is ever over until you cross the finish line!

"I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped me take the title - to my co-driver Nicolas [Klinger], to everyone at Kronos, who finish first and second in the Drivers' championship, to Peugeot and, of course, to our partner BFGoodrich. Overall it's been a really excellent season for us, with a win and a number of second places finishes."

Loix meanwhile was delighted to take his third win of the year, to add to his previous successes in Belgium and the Czech Republic. His victory also ensures he finishes second in the IRC drivers' championship - and in terms of outright wins the ex-WRC man is the best.

After wrapping up the 2008 European Rally Championship last weekend in Antibes, this year's Italian champion Luca Rossetti concluded his outstanding campaign with a fifth IRC podium finish.

He completed the distance ahead of France's Bryan Bouffier, who succeeded in being classified inside the 2008 IRC's top-ten, despite only taking part in two rounds.

Giandomenico Basso finally finished fifth overall after posting the fastest time on the last stage: "Bravo to Nicolas for his title, and a big thank you to Abarth who enabled me to stay in the hunt for the title until the end," he noted. "We were down on luck this weekend, but that is rallying. One moment you are on a high, and the next it's a big low when you make a mistake. We will see what happens next year now."

Basso's team-mate Anton Alen was sixth, while seventh spot was sufficient for Gr?goire Hotz to make sure of his fifth Swiss title. Janos Toth took the final IRC drivers' point in eighth.

Full report to follow...