Sebastien Ogier has won the 2013 World Rally Championship after Dani Sordo denied Thierry Neuville on the Rally France power stage.
Neuville, who was second fastest, needed to take maximum points from both the power stage and the rally, with Ogier non-scoring, and hope for a repeat in Spain and Great Britain if he was to claim an unlikely triumph.
But the M-Sport Ford driver came up 0.7s short of Sordo's pace-setting Citroen, which had completed the stage in 3m20.8s, sparking scenes of celebration among Volkswagen staff before Ogier had even turned a wheel on the rally.
He eventually came through to finish third, ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and Andreas Mikkelsen.
Outgoing champion Sebastien Loeb, the last of the runners on the power stage, was seventh fastest as he begins the final rally of his career.
His successor and compatriot has enjoyed a dominant first season for Volkswagen, winning six of the 10 rallies so far and finishing second in two more.