Dungannon driver Kris Meeke finished fourth in the Wales Rally of Britain in his Mini, just missing out on a podium.
Meeke started the final day 39 seconds behind third-placed Henning Solberg, but by the end he had reduced his deficit to just 1.8 seconds.
"The car has exceeded expectations, we're at a very good level and know where we have to be. For sure we can push for a win next year," said Meeke.
Finn Jari-Matti Latvala won the rally by 7.5 seconds from Mads Ostberg.
Latvala started the session with a 6.1 second advantage over world champion Sebastien Loeb and was able to stretch that by a further 1.4secs to take the victory.
The Ford Fiesta driver's route to victory was cleared when Loeb's Citroen was involved in an accident prior to the start of the second stage, sustaining radiator damage that ruled him out of the remainder of the day's action.
That gave Latvala a more relaxed run-in than he had anticipated and he eased to a first rally win in 18 months.
Latvala said: "The whole year I have been waiting for a victory. It has been a long long time.
"It's a great feeling, there have been very stressful and frustrating times. This is one of my great victories."