Kris Meeke said he had to "graft" for a fifth-place finish which helped keep his Citroen team second in the manufacturers' World Championship as Rally Spain produced an amazing twist in the final few miles.
Andreas Mikkelsen, the 26-year-old Norwegian who spent his teenage years on Irish rallies, was handed his first WRC win as Volkswagen team-mate Sebastien Ogier crashed on the final stage of the Salou-based event.
Ogier had his eighth win of the season in the bag until the unimaginable happened - he ploughed his Polo into an Armco barrier, tearing off a wheel and ending his rally. Mikkelsen had just set the fastest time on the Power Stage, securing, he thought, second place only to be stunned by the news that Ogier was out.
Mikkelsen said: "When they told me I didn't believe it, Ogier never makes mistakes."
He had his first win by three seconds from his fellow VW driver Jari-Matti Latvala with Hyundai's Dani Sordo completing the podium on his home event. But fourth and fifth places for the Citroens of Mads Ostberg and Meeke, who took a bonus point for being the third fastest on the Power Stage, ensured they remained second behind VW but ahead of Hyundai in the manufacturers' series.
Meeke said: "This was about getting points for the team and we had to graft for them."
Two Ulster privateers also made it to the finish, Robert Woodside bringing his Mitsubishi home in 31st and Jon Armstrong taking 44th in his R2 Peugeot.
Wayne Boyd turned back time to dominate the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and win the prestigious title for a second time.
Earlier former Northern Ireland champion Ivor McCullough won the Masters race which included ex-Lotus F1 driver Martin Donnelly. He finished fifth.