"It's a fantastic feeling to win the rally, but Dani [Sordo] pushed me all the way," said Hirvonen, who clinched his fifth WRC win by a margin of one minute and 15.7 seconds.
"On the last stage I did not know his split times, so I was not sure if he was still pushing. Now I lead the championship and that is a good feeling.
An overnight thunderstorm had settled the dust in the opening Kafrain stage, as Sordo attempted to fend off the Fords of Hirvonen and Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala.
|"It's a fantastic feeling to win the rally, but Dani [Sordo] pushed me all the way."|
But it was to no avail and Latvala took the overall lead by setting the second fastest time behind Hirvonen. The Finns were separated by a mere 0.3 seconds heading into Wadi Shuaib, where Sordo would, once again, have to act as the 'road sweeper'.
"I gave it my best go," said Sordo.
"When I missed a braking point on the last stage and had a spin I knew it was over and time to make sure I finished."
Loeb finishes tenth
The UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi looked set to become only the second Arab driver in WRC history to gain an FIA Drivers' Championship point, after Saudi Arabia's Abdullah Bakhashab earned a point for sixth in the 2000 Acropolis Rally, but he punctured three tyres in the final Jordan River stage and slipped from seventh to ninth and out of the points.
Sébastien Loeb, world champion, restarted day three under the SupeRally ruling and finished 10th.
Loeb restarted in 11th position on the road after Saturday's liaison section crash, but Petter Solberg was withdrawn after rolling on the final stage of day two. The Frenchman set the third quickest time in the opener.
It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for Middle East drivers, with Kuwait's Salah Bin Eidan crashing out on the final Saturday stage, Qatar's Mubarak Al-Hajri not reaching Sunday's stages and Jordanians Faris Hijazi and Issa Abu Jamous leaving the road on special stage 19.
But there were superb performances by the UAE's Group N winning Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi, Lebanon's Nick Georgiou, Jordan's Ameer Najjar and Mazan Tantash, with former rally winner Amjad Farrah and veteran Michel Saleh also running inside the top 30 for long periods.