But while Andersson celebrated winning for PROTON Motorsports, there was late anguish for Craig Breen who started the penultimate stage with a lead of 13.3s only to crash heavily on the first Ouninpohja run.
Despite his Ford Fiesta S2000 rolling several times, Breen and co-driver Paul Nagle were uninjured. However, the retirement was a cruel result for Breen, who was desperate for a confidence lift following the accident that claimed the life of his former co-driver Gareth Roberts earlier in the season.
Andersson had been firmly in the fight for victory when a driveshaft failure on stage 16 pegged him back and handed the initiative to Breen before the Swede’s fortunes were transformed on the penultimate test.
“I really wanted to win but when the driveshaft broke I thought it would be difficult to beat him,” said Andersson. “I saw he had crashed but was out of the car and okay. It was a shame for him because he had done a fantastic job this weekend but we really needed this victory because it’s been a long and difficult season since we won in Sweden. The car was running well and although we were not the quickest on the stages we played a clever race and it paid off at the end.”
Finn Juha Salo looked set to make it two PROTON Satria-Neo S2000s on the podium on his debut for the Malaysian make but a mistake on stage 14 damaged a rear wheel and dropped him behind Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi. But when Breen crashed out, Al-Rajhi moved into second with Salo taking a podium after all.
Poland’s Maciej Oleksowicz finished fourth with Finnish wildcard Esapekka Lappi restarting after retiring from the lead on day two to take fifth, setting the pace in his class on all six stages today.
Hayden Paddon’s failure to restart following a broken engine on Friday means he now trails Andersson by six points in the title fight having led prior to the event. The series resumes on Wales Rally GB in September.