Sebastien Ogier won Rally Germany yesterday, becoming the first driver to beat Sebastien Loeb, his Citroen teammate, on an all-tarmac course since 2004.
The Frenchman drove the 19 stages in three hours, 32 minutes, 15.9 seconds, finishing 39.8 seconds ahead of Loeb to end the seven-time world champion's run of eight successive victories in Germany.
"Maybe I didn't expect to win here, because it's a rally where my teammate is so strong," said Ogier.
"Mathematically, it is still possible to win the title, so I have to believe."
Ogier closed the gap in the overall standings to Loeb to 25 points. Loeb leads with 192 as he bids for his eighth consecutive world championship.
Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen of Finland is third on 156.
Loeb was unbeaten in Germany since the country joined the world championship in 2002.
The race was not held in 2009.
"For sure, it's always better to have a victory, but as I said before, someday it [the run] had to stop," the 37-year-old Loeb said.
"We still have quite a good lead in the championship. I think it's about one victory, so it's OK."
Ogier started the day over a minute ahead of his compatriot, after a puncture cost Loeb the lead on Saturday's final stage, and the 27-year-old Frenchman played it safe to ensure his first tarmac win in the world championship. Loeb won the final three stages but was unable to recover. Ogier's fourth win of 2011, his sixth at world level, moves Citroen ahead of Ford with 78 wins in world championship events.
Spain's Daniel Sordo finished third to claim a first podium place for Mini. Hirvonen was the leading Ford Abu Dhabi driver in fourth after two punctures.
An engine problem hindered his teammate, Jari-Matti Latvala, who ended up in 14th.