Sebastien Loeb moved eight points clear of closest championship rival Mikko Hirvonen with one race of the season remaining when he won the Rally of Spain on Sunday.
Bidding for an eighth consecutive world title, the French Citroen driver wrapped up his seventh straight Spanish win after dominating the three-day event, helping Citroen take the overall manufacturers' title for a seventh time.
Finnish Ford driver Hirvonen was second, more than two minutes behind, with his team mate and compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala third, a further half a minute down.
With only the British Rally left in the 13-race season, Loeb has 222 points, with Hirvonen on 214.
"We have done a really good weekend but coming from three bad rallies I could not believe this result before we came to the end," Loeb was quoted as saying on the World Rally Championship website (www.wrc.com).
"Mikko has taken a lot of points so we stay very close in the championship," added the 37-year-old, who was forced out of his home rally earlier this month with engine failure.
Loeb's team mate Sebastien Ogier, another Frenchman, remained third in the overall standings on 193 points despite suffering an engine problem on Sunday and failing to finish.
The British Rally is from Nov. 10-13 in Wales.