Sebastien Ogier closed on a third successive WRC crown after leading home an all-Volkswagen top three in Rally Germany, taking a first win for his employer in its home event.
Ogier had taken a commanding lead of 33.8 seconds over teammate Jari-Matti Latvala into the final day of the Trier-based event, which he saw whittled down to 22.6s during the morning loop as Latvala took victory on SS19, the first run through the Dhrontal test.
But Ogier rebounded with a win on the next stage to extend his cushion by four seconds, before taking things at a steadier pace in the power-stage finale, Dhrontal 2, to secure his 30th career win, his sixth of the season and his first in Germany for four years by a final margin of 23s.
The victory means that Volkswagen has now won every event on the current WRC calendar since returning to the series as a works outfit in 2013.
"The pressure was on all weekend - everyone expected us to succeed here finally, and we made it with a one-two-three," said Ogier.
"I'm so close to my third title now, so I'm really happy. It's been a great rally, really enjoyable."
With three bonus points in the power-stage, Latvala was able to limit the damage in the championship standings, but nonetheless now has 93 points to make up with only 112 left on the table in the remaining four events - meaning Ogier could take the title next time out in Australia.
Andreas Mikkelsen in the third works VW Polo started the day 1m47s adrift of Ogier, and ended the event 1m56s off the pace to secure the final spot on the podium.
The Norwegian driver moves ahead of compatriot Mads Ostberg, who finished the rally as the best Citroen driver in seventh, in the standings into third, 109 points behind Ogier.
Hyundai duo Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville, who took Hyundai's first WRC win in Germany last year, completed the top five, ahead of Elfyn Evans (M-Sport Ford) in sixth, the Welshman taking only his second ever stage win on SS18 at the start of the day.
Kris Meeke, after dropping out of points contention with an off on Friday, secured two bonus points for the second best time on the power-stage, with Sordo taking a sole extra point for the third best time.
|1||Sebastien Ogier (VW Polo)||3:35:49.5|
|2||Jari-Matti Latvala (VW Polo)||+23.0|
|3||Andreas Mikkelsen (VW Polo)||+1:56.6|
|4||Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20)||+2:09.3|
|5||Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20)||+2:33.8|
|6||Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta)||+2:52.1|