We’ve all been there. We’ve all tuned in to a World Rally Championship Sunday morning and wondered what on earth’s going on? Why so slow? It must be a problem. Failing that, I genuinely think I could have a stab at finding more pace.
Then you remember. The driver in question is going through the motions. Ticking off the tests until the powerstage, where they will launch the car off the line with four slightly tickled, but virtually brand new, boots beneath them.
Those fighting at the front have no chance. They’ve driven the 40 or so miles proceeding the five-point finale as hard as they’ve gone through Friday and Saturday to stay where they are. They haven’t broken down, they haven’t gone off the road. They’ve stayed the course and, in doing so, they’ve blunted their own weapon for the stage which offers the most.
We’ve seen this on events, you have no chance to fight for those points. It can seem a bit unfair at timesElfyn Evans
Toyota driver Elfyn Evans says enough’s enough. The time has come for change.
“If,” he told DirtFish, “you’ve had a tough weekend and you’re running, say, sixth or something like that, then you have somebody who has retired on Thursday, saved their tires and comes back to win the powerstage and take the five points. You’ve driven the whole route for eight points and they’ve done a stage and taken five or something like that.
“It feels disproportionate.”
Evans admitted the split tire allocation between hards and softs on gravel events was making a big difference to Sunday strategy.
“We generally have a limited quantity of softs,” he said “and if somebody is able to save them it can make a big difference.
“We’ve seen this on events, some of the guys have retired and then crawl around on Sunday before starting the powerstage with brand new tires – and I was there with two slicks on the back of the car and two that were OK on the front. You have no chance to fight for those points. It can seem a bit unfair at times.
“If they’re going to give five points [for the powerstage], maybe the best plan is to give everybody four new tires before the powerstage.”
FIA rally director Yves Matton agreed a possible change to the format was needed.
“It’s not good to see drivers who are sailing during Sunday morning,” Matton told DirtFish. “I don’t have a proper answer today. Four [new] tires for powerstage could be an answer, but on the other hand it’s not in the trend in what we are doing in cost saving and sustainability. We are trying to reduce the number of tires.
“For sure, the sailing approach to Sunday is something we have to take into consideration to find something that is more interesting for the sport.”
Ott Tänak has won the most powerstages so far this season, and on two occasions (Portugal and Estonia) he claimed maximum bonus points without scoring any other championship points.