Sebastien Loeb extended his World Rally Championship lead to 38 points as he took his fifth win in seven 2012 rallies in New Zealand.

The eight-time defending world champion finished 29.6 seconds ahead of Citroen teammate Mikko Hirvonen.

The win once again underlined the Frenchman's utter dominance in the sport over the past eight years.

"It's been a long weekend and my driving has not been perfect," Loeb said.

"We made a few mistakes in the closing power stage, when we were pushing too hard but the most important thing is that we have won."

Norway's Petter Solberg finished third in the fastest Ford and said tyre selection on the opening day cost him dear.

"We came here to win but a third place is still good so we must be happy with that," he said. "The team and the car is fantastic, but we just need to keep going and hopefully one day soon a win will follow."

 Rally New Zealand: Overall standings after Stage 22 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 4hours 04mins 51.2secs M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 29.6secs M
3. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 36.4secs M
4. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 13.6secs M
5. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +02mins 42.4secs M
6. Dani Sordo Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC +03mins 03.1secs
7. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +04mins 52.9secs M
8. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +09mins 36.4secs
9. Ken Block Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10mins 30.3secs
10. Manfred Stohl Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +11mins 26.3secs M