Thierry Neuville has claimed his second victory of the season in the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship finale at Rally Japan.
Alongside co-driver Martin Wydaeghe, the Hyundai Motorsport pairing finished ahead of team-mates Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja by 1:11.3s, while Japanese national Takamoto Katsuta finished on the podium alongside Aaron Johnston for Toyota Gazoo Racing, a minute behind the second Hyundai Motorsport entry.
After securing victory in Rally Greece earlier this year, Neuville was elated to finish the year on a high note.
“It feels great,” the Belgian said.
“It wasn't an easy weekend or an easy year, but to end with a victory after showing a good speed all weekend is a great way to end the season.
“Our weather guys did an incredible job this weekend, so thanks to them and thanks to everybody.”
Katsuta/Johnston were the first of a trio of Toyota Gazoo Racing entries at the finish, with Sébastien Ogier and his new co-driver Vincent Landais in fourth, while early pacesetters Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin finished fifth.
M-Sport Ford's Gus Greensmith and Jonas Andersson finished sixth, while WRC2 winner Grégoire Munster and co-driver Louis Louka impressed with a clinical drive in the wet to top the class standings with a seventh-place finish overall.
Fellow WRC2 competitors Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula finished 22s in arrears to finish second in class and eighth overall, while 2022 WRC2 championship winner Emil Lindholm and co-driver Reeta Hamalainen, sealed the title with a third-place finish in class and ninth overall.
Lindholm was beaming after guiding his Skoda Fabia Rally2 to the top-five result that was required to secure the honour.
“Honestly, it will take a while to sink in,” Lindholm said.
“We have had difficult times but I am so grateful for the people who have continued to support us.
“It finally seems to be paying off.”
In making his debut, former Formula 1 driver Heikki Kovalinen and local co-driver Sae Kitagawa rounded out the overall top 10.
The 2023 WRC season opener is expected to be Rallye Monte-Carlo, which is scheduled to take place from January 19-22.