How the Rally of Nations format works

Drivers scoring points for stage positions and a car equalization formula – it's all explained right here

Ostberg RoN 170224

You know this week’s Rally of Nations Guanajuato is where rallying meets the Olympics. But do you know how Team México can actually beat Team Scandinavia? Or France. Or Spain. You get the picture.

Don’t worry. We’ve got your back. Actually, Rally of Nations Guanajuato director Patrick Suberville has got both of our backs. Thank you Patrick. As usual.

How Rally of Nations’ equalization formula works

Like you, we were wondering how Max McRae’s production-sped Toyota GR Yaris can possibly compete on an equal footing with the Rally2-spec Škoda Fabias of Team Scandinavia’s Mads Østberg and Team Italy’s Andrea Mabellini. Some science and an awful lot of number crunching is how.

Remember, Suberville and the Rally of Nations team have done this twice before – when Spain took gold in 2009 and Team Europe took top honors without a Rally2 car in its lineup at all.


The León-based event offers one of rallying's most exciting formats, pitching nation against nation in a world cup of rallying

“We have a base for the timing,” explained Suberville. “This base is the Rally2 car. All the other cars will be classified so they can perform as well as a Rally2.

“We made a preliminary factor for the cars, depending on their engine power and aspects like suspension and other components. This gives us a broad picture for the Mitsubishi Lancers and the Renault Clios.

“But we have then taken that a step further and each car is given its own co-efficient factor to equalize it with a Rally2 at shakedown. We’re aware that two Subaru WRXs may not be the same, they might have different ECUs or gearboxes, so we have compared the specifications and tailored the time gap to every single car.”

Below is a rough outline of how the equalisation works. A Performance Balancing Factor (PBF) is used as a multiplier for stage times to generate an ‘equalised’ leaderboard for the Nations classification. Each car gets own – what’s below is just an illustration of the concept.

Open 1.15
O4WD Group 1 1.08
RC1 Rally1 1.06
RC2 Rally2 O2WD Rally2 1
RC3 Rally3 P4WD Rally3 0.945
L4WD Group 2T 0.94
RC4 Rally4 Rally4 0.92
RC5 Rally5 Rally5 0.875
Rally5 Light 0.82
L2WD Group 2 0.75

How Rally of Nations’ points system works

Stage times are measured as normal. There will still be a driver crowned winner of the rally in the traditional sense: last year it was Østberg in a Fabia. But that’s not what Rally of Nations is really about. It’s about putting points on the board for your nation (or region, for a small number of multi-nation teams).


Nil Solans returns to the event in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

Suberville explains: “For the timing, we have RallySafe, the which times the World Rally Championship. They take the stage times and they already have each car’s co-efficient programmed, so they generate an overall classification and almost simultaneously deliver the leaderboard for the cars with their times adjusted.

“We then wait for both cars from a national team and when they’re both at the finish then we can allocate points – 45 points for the fastest time – and that gives us our running leaderboard for the nations.”

Both cars score, with the number of points scored depending on whether they’re the first or second fastest car in their team for each stage:

Stage Pos Car 1 Points Car 2 Points
1st 45
2nd 40 30
3rd 36 27
4th 32 24
5th 28 21
6th 24 18
7th 20 15
8th 18 13.5
9th 16 12
10th 14 10.5
11th 12 9
12th 10 7.5
13th 8 6
14th 6 4.5
15th 4 3
16th 2 1.5

The intrigue and interest does not end there. In a way to ensure the crews work together as a national team, the organizers have restricted the number of tires to just 14 per crew for the 16 stages.

“They need to use some strategy within the team,” said Suberville. “Ideally they wanted 16 tires to be on new ones, but we’re forcing them to use worn tires for one loop – each team has to decide between the two cars where and when it’s best to do this. They have to think about each other. They have to make calculations.”

Rally of Nations Guanajuato makes the crews think differently. Very differently. This week, rallying is a team sport with a national flag.

This article was originally published on April 1, 2022. It has been updated to reflect differences in the entry list for 2024.