Citroen's Sebastien Loeb clinched a record fifth world rally title in a row after surviving a late spin to finish third in the Japan Rally.
Rival Mikko Hirvonen led Jari-Matti Latvala in a Ford one-two but it was not enough to keep the title race alive.
A potentially nasty slide on the penultimate stage almost cost the Frenchman third place and his hopes of glory in Sapporo as torrential rain made conditions treacherous.
However, Loeb recovered to finish more than a minute clear of Subaru's Chris Atkinson in fourth.
Loeb had wanted to secure the title in Japan in order to drive flat-out in the last race in Britain later this month in a bid to break his own record of 10 wins in a season.
Loeb, dubbed the "Michael Schumacher of rallying" for his stranglehold over the sport, has won a record 46 races during a career that began in 1999.