The short third and final leg of the 2009 Rally Finland failed to change anything at the sharp end of the leaderboard. Having figured in second place since Friday morning, the Citroen team's Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena completed the event in the same position to keep their chances
of defending their 2008 world title very much alive.
Dani Sordo and Marc Marti came fourth to collect valuable points for Citroen, which continues to top the provisional Manufacturers' standings.
The menu of Rally Finland's last leg featured less than 50km of competitive action and turned out to be a little less frantic than the first two days of the event had been. The programme included four stages with no service halts, beginning with Hannula, followed by two visits to Myhinpaa, and ending with the classic televised Ruuhimaki test to round off the weekend.
Despite the short competitive distance to be covered, both Citroen World Rally Team crews took their mission perfectly seriously, although Loeb produced a slight adrenaline rush within the team when he dropped 10 seconds in one chunk on Hannula.
"I was a little slow to wake up," he quipped. "We've got no chance of winning under normal circumstances and I was a bit too cautious to begin with."
The five-time World Champion responded on Myhinpaa 1, however, to claim his seventh fastest time of the rally.
Indeed, the works Citroen C4 WRCs posted a one-two on this stage thanks to Dani Sordo: "The team has naturally asked me not to take any risks, but I'm still pushing quite hard in order to keep the pressure on Latvala. You never know..."
Following the mid-morning regroup, the second attempt at the Myhinpaa test saw the rally enter its closing stages, and Sebastien Loeb
was swift to congratulate Mikko Hirvonen on his win at the end of Ruuhimaki.
"I would have preferred to have won, but there was little I could do about the result this weekend," he recognised. "Mikko put in a flawless run on his home event after being on the limit from start to finish. We've dropped another two points in the title chase, so it looks like it's going to be a close-run thing to the end."
Dani Sordo, who finished just shy of the podium, was positive in his analysis of the weekend: "It's a shame we didn't manage to hold on to third place, but there were times when we succeeded in rivalling with the drivers who were fighting for victory.
"More than anywhere else, experience is vital here in Finland and I feel I progressed to a higher level on this year's event," Sordo declared.