Does WRC need daily points?

In an open letter to the FIA, Andrew Mair proposes an alternative to the WRC's 2024 points system


Dear Mohammed and Robert and, thank you, Pernilla too,

Thank you for introducing a new points system; it was needed. The problem was cruising. Drivers who had crushed it were cruising to the finish with a nice safe lead. Drivers who had crashed it were cruising until the last stage on Sunday.

Now the problem isn’t just cruising, it’s confusing – and not quite working!

First, let me recap a little on how the 2024 points system played out in Sweden.

Rally Sweden

Esapekka Lappi didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. Do you remember EP saying on Saturday, “It’s going to be a loooong day… Two days”?

Hyundai 160224

Saturday and Sunday on Rally Sweden dragged on for clear leader Lappi

Ott Tänak’s challenge had overheated. Kalle Rovanperä’s had ended in a snowbank. Thierry Neuville’s had snowplowed itself into oblivion. Elfyn Evans’s had been buried by Thierry. And now, Takamoto Katsuta’s challenge had just ended, tucked up in the snow.

EP, all credit to him, had kept it tidy. He had kept it fast. He was winning. But now his face fell. He knew the boss was going to tell him to slow it down, and bring home a bag of points. Lappi didn’t like it. I didn’t like it.

The 2024 points system hadn’t prevented Lappi cruising. That is why I asked myself this question: under a Day Points system, would his boss still want EP to sit back and cruise for the remaining two days?

Calculating Day Points

Day Points means awarding points for the cumulative times of each day independently. Rather like touring car championships tend to run three races each weekend, with points awarded for each, rather than one. Rallies are naturally three-day events. I would argue points-per-day is quite natural too – especially with super rally.

The 2023 and 2024 systems’ maximum score is 30 points. So I scored three days with three lots of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Not quite the way I’d recommend as I think winners should have more, but it at least makes 2023, 2024 and Day Points comparable for a moment. It’s worth noting that Day Points dish out more points in total, though. With points for each day, drivers would keep them regardless of the other days. It dispenses with powerstage points as they’re no longer needed and Sundays tend to be shorter anyway.

So what Day Points would have been awarded in Sweden?

Posn Day 1 Pts Day 2 Pts Day 3 Pts
1 Lappi 10 Evans 10 Evans 10
2 Katsuta 9 Neuville 9 Rovanperä 9
3 Solberg 8 Rovanperä 8 Neuville 8
4 Fourmaux 7 Fourmaux 7 Tänak 7
5 Evans 6 Lappi 6 Fourmaux 6
6 Linnamäe 5 Tänak 5 Katsuta 5
7 Pajari 4 Solberg 4 Lappi 4
8 Korhonen 3 Bertelli 3 Munster 3
9 Heikkilä 2 Pajari 2 Bertelli 2
10 Joona 1 Linnamäe 1 Solberg 1

Note the day finish order is cumulative times of only that day, not cumulative rally time at that point – in the same manner as 2024 Sunday points are calculated.

So over the three days these would have been the points awarded compared to 2024 points:

Driver Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Total 2024 Pts
Evans 6 10 10 26 24
Lappi 10 6 4 20 19
Fourmaux 7 7 6 20 18
Neuville 0 9 8 17 18
Rovanperä 0 8 9 17 11
Katsuta 9 0 5 14 3
Solberg 8 4 1 13 8
Tänak 0 5 7 12 6
Linnamäe 5 1 0 6 4
Pajari 4 2 0 6 6
Bertelli 0 3 2 5 0
Korhonen 3 0 0 3 3
Munster 0 0 3 3 0
Heikkilä 2 0 0 2 2
Joona 1 0 0 1 1

On paper Lappi would come out with about the same amount of points with either system. But if points per day had been reality, would his boss have wanted him to ease up quite so much? The 2024 system didn’t work to stop Lappi cruising on Day 2 or Day 3. The big bag of points at the end of Saturday was so important it actually hampered him on Sunday. Day Points would have given him reason to keep pushing on Saturday and Sunday.


Lappi's jumps might have been longer if he'd been chasing Day Points

Day Points would have reset Day 2 for Elfyn and his Saturday speed would have given him a greater net haul of points. He was fastest on Saturday, but that wasn’t enough to recover Friday’s extra snow shoveling served up by Tricky Thierry’s fantastically fixed fuel-feed issue. But more generally, how does a 2024 system that gave Elfyn 13 points from 15 stages then 11 points from three stages ever make much sense?

Remember Oliver Solberg was third at the end of Day 1? Day Points would have immortalized that great drive.

Safari Rally Kenya

Now let me put my spectator’s perspective on the confusing parts of the points from Safari Rally Kenya. The main problem for me was that after two days, Neuville had had many issues and fallen more than six minutes behind Evans, who earned only two points more than him. On Sunday, Neuville was only 15.7s faster than Evans but Thierry earned six points more than Elfyn.


Evans might have been happier in Kenya with a more even points balance

As in Sweden, the root cause of this confusing balance of points is that if we had a larger field of Rally1 cars then neither Thierry nor Elfyn would have got any points on Saturday. In a close-fought category with many cars like the World Endurance Championship nobody would see this problem.

Aside from the oddities, did the 2024 system solve the original problem or was there still cruising in Kenya?


  • Given Ott’s pace of Sunday, it is fair to say that after Friday’s crash he was cruising… but not on Sunday.
  • EP post-Friday gearbox woe was cruising on Saturday. But that was definitely not his plan on Sunday.


  • Taka had a great rally and I loved seeing Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen egging him on in Colin Clark’s Sunday morning interviews. Was Taka cruising?  Yes – on Sunday he had to be careful not to lose his bag of Saturday points.
  • Rovanperä was nearly two minutes slower than Ott on Sunday so, yes, he was cruising.

In short, there was still cruising. But Sunday was also much more interesting thanks to the 2024 points system. Ott came back into play all day and there was a fresh Elfyn vs Thierry battle. Only the top three with big bags of points that they needed to protect were being careful on Sunday.

Part of the current cruising problem is that the Rally1 situation means points are awarded to cars that in truth have fallen way behind, yet due to the pace differential can still overhaul Rally2 machinery. It seems likely the Rally1 situation will continue for a while yet, which suggests cruising will be around for a while yet.

For me, we are left with two problems:

  1. Saturday cruising after a bad Friday isn’t solved by the 2024 system.
  2. Already earned points being at risk actually creates Sunday cruising.

Many fans see another problem: the rally winner didn’t get the most points. But for me, if a winner has been able to cruise much of the rally and even drive slowest for a day, then they don’t deserve the most points.


Did Rovanperä truly deserve the biggest points haul on the Safari?

Would Day Points have helped the show at the Safari Rally?  Here’s the daily scores:

Posn Day 1 Pts Day 2 Pts Day 3 Pts
1 Rovanperä 10 Rovanperä 10 Tänak 10
2 Katsuta 9 Katsuta 9 Neuville 9
3 Fourmaux 8 Fourmaux 8 Evans 8
4 Evans 7 Tänak 7 Fourmaux 7
5 Neuville 6 Evans 6 Katsuta 6
6 Greensmith 5 Solberg 5 Munster 5
7 Solberg 4 Greensmith 4 Lappi 4
8 Tänak 3 Neuville 3 Rovanperä 3
9 Serderidis 2 Kajetanowicz 2 Solberg 2
10 Kajetanowicz 1 Lappi 1 Greensmith 1

And the points totals of three days compared with the 2024 points:

Driver Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Total 2024 Pts
Katsuta 9 9 6 24 18
Rovanperä 10 10 3 23 20
Fourmaux 8 8 7 23 17
Evans 7 6 8 21 16
Tänak 3 7 10 20 12
Neuville 6 3 9 18 19
Solberg 4 5 2 11 4
Greensmith 5 4 1 10 6
Lappi 0 1 4 5 4
Munster 0 0 5 5 2
Kajetanowicz 1 2 0 3 3
Serderidis 2 0 0 2 2

Katsuta is top of the pile due to a sustained effort across the three days, whereas rally winner Rovanperä cruised to eighth fastest on Sunday – the slowest Rally1 of all, which is a farce. Despite a scorching powerstage time, he was slower even than Lappi who had a troubled day.

The Safari is one rally where driving at this sort of pace was once upon a time part of the story of the rally. Not anymore – or at least it wouldn’t have been if Kalle’s already-earned points were secure and there was a new day’s points to aim at.

Adrien and Elfyn – like Taka – pushed for three days and their scores are higher under Day Points. Ott still gets the benefit of a full-on-fun-day Sunday. But with more incentive on Saturday would he have pushed more on Day 2? Why wouldn’t he?


Tänak had little incentive to push on Safari's Saturday

Thierry would have about the same points, in part because of there being more points available under Day Points. Thierry has been a master of the Sunday game for the first three rounds. I have loved checking out these new Sunday fights.

Comparing with WRC2, there the fight was over by Friday lunch. So much for Rally2 cars for all and keeping the points simple being the answers to all our problems.

The championship view

In Sweden and Safari, most people would say Evans outperformed Neuville and yet he outscored his rival by only three points (40 vs 37). Under Day Points, Elfyn outscores Thierry by 12 (47 vs 35).

Road sweepers

Sweden demonstrated more than Safari how the 2024 system is fairer to those who have to clear the road. Evans’ times tanked on Friday, and while he was faster than Fourmaux on Saturday he couldn’t make up all that lost time. Day Points would have given him 16 points from the two days versus Fourmaux’s 14. A better reflection of performance, I think.

Evans 190224

Evans suffered from sweeping the snow in Sweden

The original road sweeper in Sweden of course was Thierry. His Friday was so bad he was outside the top 10 by the end of the day. Day points would have rewarded him well for his speedy Saturday. But the 2024 system awarded more than Day Points! Again, that was because so many other Rally1 cars fell off the road that he was just one place behind Elfyn by the end of Saturday. He just happened to be the last remaining Rally1 car ‘still on the lead lap’. On most rallies that level of road sweeping would be unrecoverable by Saturday night.

I believe Day Points offer a fair reset on Saturday for Friday’s sweepers. It feels like it operates like a reversed-grid system in a touring car race.

The impact of super rally

In Sweden, Taka-san had two good days and one bad day. 2024 points wasted his fabulous Friday whereas Day Points would have rewarded him well. Likewise for Kalle and Ott in Sweden and Ott in Kenya: two good days + one bad = better reward from Day Points. The 2024 system wasted their Saturdays.

As soon as you let cars restart after retiring, the original 2010 points system makes no sense. What would have been the point of rejoining? A returnee was never going to get any decent end-of-rally points. Powerstage points being awarded on one stage (that was otherwise no different to any other) was the wrong solution as crashers and non-crashers could still cruise through much of the rally. Day Points is a solution that creates incentive for pace every day.

Perhaps the amount of powerstage points should instead be allocated for the top five overall? That would address the argument that a win is being devalued.


Redistributing powerstage points could avoid claims that winning is devalued

Letting cars restart is the right thing to do, given the expense involved in competing, the general shortage of cars, and for the fans’ benefit. Let’s get cars back in the rally even sooner I say. Why not have service vans at the end of stages again?

Also if you let cars back in to collect points on Days 2 or 3, surely you have to allow cars that retire on Sunday to keep their points from previous days?


David Evans concluded after Sweden that the 2024 system avoids a third day of cruising to the finish. But we still have the rally winner being the slowest car some days!  Day Points would improve the situation further because those who had a cracking Friday couldn’t afford to cruise thereafter, and those who flunked out get a fresh points restart on Saturday, not just Sunday.

Alasdair Lindsay posed a pertinent question in a recent DirtFish article: what competitive values should rallying stand for? I borrow my answer from a DirtFish reader: “Rallying is all about getting to the finish line in the shortest possible time.”

In the previous two rallies, the winner got to the finish in the shortest time, not the shortest possible time. There was actually a disincentive for EP and Kalle to do so! Day Points create the challenge to do each day in the shortest possible time. I’m bored of rallies where the leader gaps everyone on Day 1 and just strokes it home. I stopped watching the Loeb years and the Ogier years.

WRC Rally Australia, Coffs Harbour 09 - 13 September 2015

Ogier's era of dominance was a turn-off for many

The elephant in the room is that people expect rallies to be about endurance. Well I’m not as interested in that – technology has moved on. We need super rally yet it is fundamentally not compatible with that ‘endurance is king’ model. For me, now cars are so strong and reliable rallying is all about getting to the finish line in the shortest possible time (sideways!).

Stopping cruising by incentivizing reaching the finish line in the shortest possible time is the right objective. The 2024 points system has partly solved that problem but caused others because the overall balance of points on Sunday is too much.

Day Points gives us back the action every day, and offers the most balanced reward for all.