Fabio Andolfi collected his first win at WRC 2 level after a nail-biting finale at Corsica linea - Tour de Corse on Sunday.
The Italian began the short final day with a lead of 31.6sec over Nikolay Gryazin. But he emerged from the opening stage 0.7sec behind, when a transmission problem left his Škoda Fabia with two-wheel drive only.
With the car restored to health, Andolfi stormed through the final Wolf Power Stage 4.5sec quicker than Gryazin to retake the lead and seal victory by just 3.9s.
A maximum 25 points was the perfect start to the 25-year-old's 2019 campaign.
"The last stage was hard because Gryazin was in front of me, but in the end we are happy," he said.
"I am happy with our performance, especially on Saturday's long stage, and I hope it will be the start of a good season."
Kajetan Kajetanowicz was was third in a VW Polo, 2m49s behind Gryazin. The Pole made up a place when Ole Christian Veiby, who was third overnight, broke a wheel early in SS13 and retired.
Toyota development driver Takamoto Katsuta was fourth in a Ford Fiesta, 58.6sec behind Kajetanowicz, while Rhys Yates' Škoda was just 6.6sec further back in fifth. Sébastien Bedoret rounded out the top six.
WRC 2 Pro
Lukasz Pieniazek claimed victory in WRC 2 Pro and moved top of the championship standings.
The Pole rejoined after crashing out on Saturday, and with rival Kalle Rovanperä sidelined by a damaged roll cage, the young Pole was unchallenged on his way to a second consecutive maximum points haul.
"We got safely through, and are happy to collect the points, but we must try to improve on the next one," Pieniazek said.
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