Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson has paid tribute to Sebastien Loeb - while admitting an undiminished determination to spoil the end of the Frenchman's final full season in the World Rally Championship.
Loeb announced last week that he would only compete on selected rounds of the championship next season and ruled himself out the 2013 title race.
Wilson, who has twice tried to sign Loeb and lure him away from Citroen, said: "As you know, I'm a big fan of Mr Loeb and I'd have to say that it's been a privilege to be around in the sport at the same time as him.
"Undoubtedly, he's cost me championship after championship, but the domination we have seen from Sebastien is something I will never again see in my lifetime. There has never been and never will be anybody better in our sport."
Wilson added that Loeb's departure would undoubtedly promote a more competitive WRC next year.
"It's going to open the championship up, that's for sure," he said. "And the championship will move on quickly from Sebastien's era, time waits for nobody. But, we've still got opportunities to beat him this year and we are determined to take them.
"Christian [Loriaux, Ford technical director] is very confident coming into France - and there's so much determination in the team to win this week, it's incredible."