Production world rally champion Niall McShea admitted he had lost all hope at one point of claiming the title on the Rally Australia.
The Northern Ireland driver took the crown after finishing second in the production category behind Toshihiro Arai on the event.
Scotland’s Alister McRae had looked set to take the honours after leading the class on day two Down Under but a rear differential failure on stage 22 today ended the Subaru driver’s rally and all hope of a much-coveted world championship title.
Both McShea and McRae had headed into the final round in Australia as title contenders alongside previous leader Jani Paasonen, who retired on day two.
But the Enniskillen driver’s second-spot was enough to secure the title as he ended the season ahead of Japanese driver Arai in the final standings.
“I knew it was possible when we got to Australia and then it suddenly seemed impossible as Alister was on such good form,” McShea said.
“Unfortunately for him, he had bad luck and we all know how cruel rallying can be. I wanted so much to win from the front and, even though we’ve not had a win this year, we’ve been on the pace.”
McRae revealed his obvious disappointment at missing out on the title, saying: “Our lead was good enough to not have to push too hard – just enough to stay in the lead but at the start of stage 22 the rear diff went and we knew we weren’t going to go any further.
“We had one goal – to lead from the start and win. It didn’t happen for us this time, but I guess that’s rallying.”