An emotional Sebastien Ogier dedicated his Rally of Spain win to his friend and former team-mate Sean Edwards, who died earlier month.
Ogier wore a black armband for the duration of last week's penultimate round of the World Rally Championship in memory of the Briton, who was killed in a testing accident in Australia.
The Frenchman admitted he had been shocked by the loss of the driver he shared the Project 1 Porsche team with at the Monaco Supercup race this year.
"I met him only a few times but immediately the connection was really good and was really a fantastic guy," Ogier told AUTOSPORT.
"When I raced with him in Monaco it will always stay in my memory now and it's a fantastic memory.
"He just gave me so many tips and had a very fantastic weekend with him. Since this time we were always in quite close contact, always texting.
"We had planned to celebrate together our victory this winter because he was very close to get the Porsche Supercup title. He had a fantastic season. It's often like that. You always have the feeling that the good people are learning too early.
"It's crazy, I only met him a few times, but I feel so sad."
While Ogier celebrated his eighth WRC win of the year and Volkswagen's title, he admitted the Edwards crash had given him perspective.
"This," he said, "was a fantastic day. I am really happy for the team because all season they gave me a fantastic car. This is a good victory, but I also realised there are more important things in life.
"Recently I lost a very good friend and I want to dedicate this victory to him."