Estonian driver Ott Tanak won the Rally of Germany in his Toyota Yaris on Sunday as championship leader Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) and closest challenger Sebastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta) remained locked in the race for the title.
Neuville, who started the rally with a 21-point lead, finished second in his Hyundai to pick up 19 points while reigning world champion Ogier was fourth in his Ford Fiesta and collected 17 points, including five as a bonus for winning the final Power Stage.
"It was a challenging weekend so to finish second shows we did our job," said Belgian Neuville, now 23 points clear.
"I managed to slightly increase my lead in the drivers' championship, which was the aim. The battle for the title is going to be tight until the very end."
It was Tanak's third victory of the season after the rallies of Argentina and Finland.
The 30-year-old Estonian, in third overall 36 points behind, started strongly, taking the lead on the first stage on Thursday.
Ogier briefly grabbed first after the second stage on Friday morning but Tanak was imperious the rest of the way and maintained a lead of between 12 and 14 seconds ahead of his nearest challengers.
Frenchman Ogier almost lost everything on Saturday when he suffered a puncture on the rough concrete of the famous Panzerplatte tank range at the Baumholder military camp. He fell to ninth while the more cautious Neuville was in fourth.
But on a tumultuous final morning the two men who started Sunday battling for second -- Dani Sordo (Hyundai) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota) -- both dropped out. The Spaniard crashed off the road and the Finn suffered a transmission failure and Neuville and Ogier took advantage.
1. Thierry Neuville (BEL/Hyundai i20) 172 pts
2. Sebastien Ogier (FRA/Ford Fiesta) 149
3. Ott Tanak (EST/Toyota Yaris) 136
4. Esapekka Lappi (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 88
5. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR/Hyundai i20) 65
6. Dani Sordo (ESP/Hyundai i20) 60
7. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 55
8. Elfyn Evans (GBR/Ford Fiesta) 52
9. Mads Ostberg (NOR/Citroen C3) 48
10. Craig Breen (IRL/Citroën C3) 45
11. Kris Meeke (GBR/Citroën C3) 43
12. Teemu Suninen (FIN/Ford Fiesta) 42
13. Hayden Paddon (NZL/Hyundai i20) 34
14. Sébastien Loeb (FRA/Citroen C3) 15
1. Hyundai Motorsport 254 pts
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing 241
3. M-Sport Ford 224
4. Citroen Racing 159