Dani Sordo, driving a Citroen DS3, won the German round of the World Rally Championship, the Rallye Deutschland at Trier on Sunday, ahead of Thierry Neuville in a Ford Fiesta RS and Mikko Hirvonen in a Citroen.
It was Sordo's first World championship win and it came after a nail-biting finish to the ninth round of the season when Neuville went off the road just three kilometres before the finish and just three seconds off the lead.
An emotional Sordo, the nearly-man of WRC with 34 podium finishes in 106 starts, said at the finish: “It's a great moment for me.
“Thierry was pushing so hard. He was a little slower than me at first but then he was faster so I needed to push harder.”
“I was so nervous at the start but this win is something I've dreamed of for many years.”
Second place for Neuville, in his first full WRC season, extended a superb run of results which netted two seconds and a third before this rally.
He said: “I feel we proved a lot again, even if we did ultimately just miss out on the win.
“I decided we were going to go for it on the final stage, but coming out of the forest, I mistook one fast left-hand corner in the vineyards for another and we went off.
“By the time my navigator Nico Gilsoul called the pace note, it was already too late. Luckily we were able to get back on the road and make it to the finish.”
Sebastien Ogier salvaged three points by winning the final Power Stage, giving him a 75 point lead in the Drivers' standings over Neuville, with Jari-Matti Latvala third, 11 points behind, and four rounds remaining.
There was more drama though as two spectators were taken to hospital with injuries after being hit by a car. They had been standing in an area which was out of bounds to fans.
On Saturday organisers were forced to cancel the final stage of the day when two Dutch drivers, taking part in a supporting rally to the world championship round died after their vehicle was involved in a heavy crash. - AFP
1 Dani Sordo (Spain) Citroën DS3 - 3hours 15min19.4
2 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Ford Fiesta RS +53sec
3 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroën DS3 +2min36.1
4 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Ford Fiesta RS +8min00.8
5 Robert Kubica (Poland) Citroën DS3 RRC +9min01.3
6 Elfy Evans (Britain) Ford Fiesta RS +9min14.2
7 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) VW Polo-R +9min55.0
9 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Ford Fiesta RS +12mimn28.1
9 Evgeny Novikov (Russia) Ford Fiesta RS +15min17.9
10 Khalid Al-Qassimi (United Arab Emirates) Citroën DS3 +17min46.9
Special stage winners:
Ogier 6 (SS1, SS2, SS9, SS11, SS12, SS16)
Neuville 4 (SS3, SS4, SS5, SS6)
Sordo 3 (SS10, SS13, SS15)
Latvala 2 (SS7, SS8)
Note: SS14 cancelled
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS - DRIVERS
1 Sebastien Ogier (France) - 184 points
2 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) - 109
3 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) - 98
4 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) - 96
5 Dani Sordo (Spain) - 88
6 Sebastien Loeb (France) - 68 (competed in 3 rallies)
7 Mads Ostberg (Norway) - 67
8 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) - 49
9 Evgeny Novikov (Russia) - 40
10 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) - 30
1 Volkswagen Motorsport - 262 points
2 Citroën Abu Dhabi - 236
3 Qatar Ford - 127
4 Qatar M-Sport Ford - 126
5 Jipocar Czech National Team - 51
6 Abu Dhabi Citroen Total - 37
7 Volkswagen Motorsport II - 26
8 Lotos WRC Team - 20