While he may not have won in Japan, Loeb did enough to secure a record fifth WRC driver's crown after crossing the line third overall. Ford drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala finished first and second but could not hold off the flying Frenchman, who can now head into the final round in Wales knowing the pressure to win has been lifted.
It wasn't all smooth sailing. Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena spun the Citroen in the penultimate stage of the rally but managed to recover to make it across the finish line intact.
An elated Loeb climbed atop the C4's roof at the end of the event to celebrate and later outlined just how hard-fought the battle had been:
?It?s incredible! But that was a terrible rally - it couldn?t have been trickier! It?s a great moment. It?s perfect. I?m so relieved this weekend is over. I now feel more relaxed for Wales, an event I really want to win," he said.
While the Drivers' Championship is sewn up, the manufacturers' title is still up for grabs and will be hotly contested at the final event of the year in Wales. Citroen currently has an eleven point lead over Ford and will need to finish strongly to make it a double.