Sébastien Ogier took top honours at last year's Wales Rally GB, but the Frenchman drove with thoughts of his compatriots at the front of his mind after shocking news from Paris shortly after the event began.
Friday 13 November
Ogier dominated Friday's muddy opening leg to lead the final round of the season following five wins from six special stages. Driving a Volkswagen Polo R, Ogier headed Kris Meeke by 13.5sec with team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen a further 17.9sec behind.
Torrential rain soaked the forests of mid-Wales the night before and Ogier benefited from opening the road in slippery conditions. He won all three morning stages to build a lead over Meeke. Although Citroën's DS 3 driver stopped the rot with fastest time through the repeated Hafren test, Ogier bounced back to win the final two stages.
The only challenge to the leading duo came from Jari-Matti Latvala, but it was short-lived. The Finn was second behind Ogier in the opening test but ditched his Polo R early in the next stage and retired. Mikkelsen climbed into third following Latvala's demise.
Mads Østberg's only problem was a leaky DS 3 which allowed the cockpit to become a mudbath and he held a comfortable fourth, 35.7sec ahead of Dani Sordo's Hyundai i20.
Hyundai's Thierry Neuville and Kevin Abbring were early casualties. Neuville lost the left-rear wheel from his i20 when the wheel studs broke and the Dutchman stopped when his engine overheated. Broken suspension sent Martin Prokop tumbling from eighth, while a puncture and overshoot ruined Robert Kubica's day.
Saturday 14 November
News of terrorist attacks in Paris broke on Friday night and cast a shadow over the event. It hit Frenchman Ogier hard and he considered pulling out of the rally but decided to continue. Despite finding it difficult to concentrate, Ogier extended his lead during a storm-lashed second leg to increase his lead over Meeke to 35.7sec with just one short day to come.
Ogier steadily stretched his advantage in the morning, but briefly lost the lead after stopping behind Neuville's crashed car which was blocking the road. Officials later credited him with the time lost and he was back at the top.
Meeke delivered an error-free day and headed Mikkelsen by 24.7sec. The Norwegian punctured and broke his Polo R's rear right damper after hitting a hole in the morning, but won two stages to keep alive his slim hopes of securing second in the drivers' championship.
Østberg, Ott Tänak and Sordo fought for fourth. Østberg twice had control of the position but a puncture and a trip into a ditch sent him tumbling to eighth. Sordo took advantage, but a gearchange glitch and a brush with a barrier allowed Tänak ahead, despite a spin.
The Estonian's Ford Fiesta RS headed Sordo's i20 by 14.7sec, with Hayden Paddon completing the top six despite a gearshift problem and a head-on collision with Prokop after both took the wrong route on a liaison section. Prokop's Fiesta was too damaged to continue.
Sunday 15 November
Ogier claimed an emotional victory by 26.0sec from Meeke and dedicated his success to the victims of Friday night's tragic events in Paris.
"It was hard to carry on after the tragedy in France and our thoughts were with the people. We wanted this victory as our small sign for those who have been touched, and to show we must be even stronger against these things," said Ogier.
Meeke refused to risk all in chasing Ogier, preferring a more measured approach which, allied to Østberg's seventh place, enabled Citroën to beat Hyundai for second in the manufacturers' standings. Mikkelsen completed the podium but it wasn't enough to overhaul Latvala in the drivers' series.
Tänak crashed out of fourth in the opening stage, allowing Sordo to regain the place he yielded on Saturday. The Hyundai i20 driver finished 9.2sec ahead of team-mate Paddon.
Elfyn Evans delighted his home fans with sixth in a Ford Fiesta RS, 8.6sec behind the Kiwi and 1min 20sec ahead of Østberg. Stéphane Lefebvre overcame flu to take eighth in another DS 3, with Kubica and Lorenzo Bertelli completing the leaderboard.