Sebastien Ogier secured his seventh FIA World Rally Championship title and his third with a different manufacturer by taking the Rally Monza victory.
Ogier headed into the final three stages on Sunday knowing if he made no mistakes, he would regain the title he lost to Ott Tänak last season and that was exactly what he did.
The Toyota driver signaled his intentions by winning the first stage and increasing his lead to Dani Sordo behind, and chose to back off for the last two tests including the rally ending Power Stage.
His lead was trimmed by the end to 13.9 seconds, but due to championship rival Elfyn Evans crashing out yesterday, he wins the championship by eight points over his Welsh teammate.
“I am pretty happy,” said the delighted Ogier after crossing the finish line at the end of the final stage.
“It was a difficult weekend and this last stage was not enjoyable. We feel sorry for Elfyn. We had great fun fighting each other this season and I am sure next year will be the same.
“I think we have done a good job this season – the car has been fantastic the whole time and it’s such a pleasure to drive the Yaris. I’m looking forward to the future.”
Evans did return on Sunday in a bid to reignite his title push if Ogier suffered problems, but it was to no avail and he has to settle for second in the championship despite managing a third-place finish on the Power Stage.
Hyundai pair Sordo and Tänak would have the closest battle on the final day, with their second and third positions changing after every stage.
The Estonian had got the better of him on the PZero Grand Prix test first thing this morning, but Sordo came back with a stage win on the first running through Serraglio and retook the position by just 0.2 seconds.
The Power Stagehowever saw Tänak again fight back and he took second away from him by 1.4 seconds.
With both Hyundai’s finishing on the podium, added to by both Evans and Power Stage winner Takamoto Katsuta crashing out earlier in the rally, it means they seal a second WRC Manufacturers title, much to the delight of Team Principal Andrea Adamo.
Fourth in Italy went to M-Sport Ford’s Esapekka Lappi, who held off Kalle Rovanpeara on Sunday’s stages.
After the end of the final stage, the Finn appeared to reveal he’s not going to be competing in the championship next year, meaning he’ll leave the Cumbrian team after only a single season.
Andreas Mikkelsen completed his fine weekend in to hold off rally-long rival Oliver Solberg for sixth overall, with WRC3 championship winner Jari Huttunen in eighth.
The third newly crowned champion in the field finished ninth in the form of Mads Østberg, with the experienced Norwegian taking the WRC2 crown after winning the class on the final round of the season.
Ostberg’s WRC2 season-long rival Pontus Tidemand completed the top 10 overall, but couldn’t get the better of the Citroen man and he also received a puncture late on the final stage of the rally.
Tom Kristensson was also confirmed as the newly-crowed FIA Junior World Rally Championship winner after the end of the Power Stage.
The young Swede made the most of his championship rivals – Sami Pajari and Martins Sesks – crashing out of the event early on, and he made no mistakes to secure a great prize of a Rally2-spec Ford Fiesta MK2 R5 ahead of a 2021 WRC3 campaign.