(CNN) -- Mikko Hirvonen secured his first victory in the Rally of Finland to extend his lead in the world championship over arch-rival Sebastien Loeb.
Mikko Hirvonen drove a superb race to win his home rally for the first time.
It was the first victory in his home rally for the Ford Focus driver who has now won three in a row after Greece and Poland.
The 29-year-old Finn had a 25.1 seconds advantage over Loeb by the finish on Sunday and was clearly delighted.
"I've been watching this rally since I was a kid, and now I've won it myself it's an absolutely fantastic feeling," he told the official world rally championship Web site www.wrc.com.
"The rally went exactly like we planned. I always knew it would be close with Sebastien. I've enjoyed myself all weekend."
Hirvonen took the lead from the second stage and opened up a big advantage on Saturday as Loeb damaged a wheel on his Citroen when he hit a pothole.
Loeb looked headed for his sixth straight world title when he held a 20-point lead in the championship race just four rounds ago, but has seen his advantage fritter away.
"It was looking good for Mikko to begin with but after my puncture it was over. I lost too much time and it was not possible to come back - the gap was too much.
"But okay, we are here, we lost two points in the championship - but it's better than losing ten like we did on the last couple of events! It will be an interesting end to the championship I think."
Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala finished third in the second Ford Focus with Loeb's teammate Dani Sordo in fourth.
Saturday's action was marked by a spectacular crash involving Formula One star Kimi Raikkonen, who rolled his Fiat Abarth Grande Punto while lying 15th.
Ferrari's Raikkonen, the F1 world champion in 2007, was unhurt.
His Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa is recovering from a fractured skull he received in a freak accident in qualifying in Hungary the preceding Saturday.
Raikkonen was taking part in the rally during the four-week summer break in Formula One.