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Marcus Gronholm has completed his domination of the Rally New Zealand by clinching victory and securing the WRC manufacturers' title for Ford in the process.

Gronholm's teammate Mikko Hirvonen finished second, 56 seconds behind, and the team enjoyed a perfect weekend, having run one-two for the entire duration of the event.

It is the first time Ford has won the Manufacturers' Championship since 1979 - when the company ran the iconic Ford Escort RS1800. 

Gronholm, Hirvonen and Manfred Stohl held the top three positions after SS1, and were still there when the event ended three days and 17 stages later.

The Citroen's of Xevi Pons and Dani Sordo were fourth and fifth, while Petter Solberg's remote sixth place typified his disappointing 2006 season, as a mixture of minor mechanical problems, errant tyre choices and handling issues left him unable to fight with the leaders.

"I'm doing everything I can - everybody in the team is doing everything they can," said Solberg. "I'm not blaming the tyres or the car, it's a combination of many, many things. It's been the same for a long, long time, but it's difficult to do something (about it)."

Luis Perez Companc took his first points finish in seventh, while attrition amongst the rest of the small WRC field meant that Production class winner Jari Matti Latvala ended up eighth overall.

Nasser Al-Attiyah clinched the PWRC class title despite retiring with engine problems this morning.

MotoGP ace Valentino Rossi eventually finished 11th, having got quicker and quicker throughout the event - and enjoyed every second of it.

Local favourite Richard Mason rounded out the top 10 in his Impreza WRX after his arch rival, Chris West, rolled out of the event on Day 2.  Leading lady driver, Emma Gilmour, retired on the same stage as West, with mechanical problems.

Final results

Pos  Driver         Make           Time
1. Gronholm Ford 4h 02:30.7
2. Hirvonen Ford + 56.0
3. Stohl Peugeot + 2:39.3
4. Pons Citroen + 2:56.1
5. Sordo Citroen + 3:20.7
6. P Solberg Subaru + 4:57.1
7. Perez Companc Ford + 10:51.6
8. Latvala Subaru + 16:22.4

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