WRC drivers call for evolution of points system

While Toyota duo have been highly critical of 2024 system, Hyundai pair's views are more nuanced

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To nobody’s great surprise, the World Rally Championship points system was again one of the big talking points at the end of last weekend’s Croatia Rally.

Eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier, who won in Croatia, went as far as to call the new system a “pure joke” as he ended up scoring just one point more than fourth-place finisher Ott Tänak, while championship rivals Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville achieved the same number of points despite finishing second and third respectively.

How the WRC goes about dishing out the points this season has split the crews, with the unpredictability of the title battle and more excitement on Sunday the upside to the new system, while confusion is the notable frustration.

It’s left key WRC players calling for an evolution of the points structure.

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Ott Tänak had plenty to smile in Croatia - he finished fourth but netted 20 points thanks to the new points structure

“Considering where we were during the weekend and where we ended up, of course, [is] really, really positive and nothing we really expected,” Tänak told DirtFish after his fourth-place result in Croatia.

“But, you know, this fantastic system really helped us,” he added with a sharp dose of sarcasm.

“There are [such] simple ways to keep the Sunday, the extra points and for the powerstage and all kind of things to keep the entertainment going, but the sport should still stay somewhere as well.

“At the moment, actually, what we were thinking Elfyn did only one mistake, he had only one spin. And, in the end, he scores one point more than I, who finished fourth. The sport part is missing at the moment.”


The new system is working for Thierry Neuville - he maintained his lead over Evans in Croatia

WRC points leader Neuville benefited the most from the new system in Croatia, picking up the same number of points as title rival Evans despite finishing behind the Toyota driver.

The Belgian is, however, satisfied that some elements of the new system are working.

“Nothing has changed, that’s for sure,” said Neuville. “Points-wise, we take same number of points here this weekend, [but] I think we are both a little bit disappointed and frustrated that we couldn’t end up on the highest position of the podium.

“I mean, definitely, the Sunday is more exciting. That’s what it was supposed to do. Also, for us, it’s more exciting, but also more exhausting because you need to give it everything on a Sunday.

“And everyone’s giving it on a Sunday, that’s for sure.”

Giving it everything on Sunday is all well and good, but as Neuville adds, a winner of a rally in 2024 may not necessarily gain the same level of exultation as in previous seasons.

“But on the other hand, you don’t feel that happy again when you’re on the podium or even on the first step of the podium because you’re not as well rewarded as before when you took the 25 or even 30 points with the powerstage win.

“I don’t know, but it’s the rules we have now, and we have to fight with.”

Elfyn Evans had the most reason to feel aggrieved in Croatia.

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Elfyn Evans feels the way points are being awarded is favoring those further down the order

“It’s the guys behind that are benefiting, that are maybe not fighting at the sharp end and still collecting huge points, so it’s keeping the pack [together] and the manufacturers’ [championship] is even worse,” he said.

“We’ve had two one-two results now in the last two events and I think we’ve gained seven points over two rallies, so it’s not right.”

When probed as to how quickly the system can be fine-tuned, Neuville and Tänak do not believe an overhaul will happen overnight.

“We can’t change it during the season, but we’re going to learn from it,” said Neuville. “And anyhow, I think other than the points system, there’s a lot of things to improve.”

Tänak added: “I think already now, quite a few lessons have been taken, but at the moment, we are already coming close to mid-season, so maybe it’s time to really review what’s been happening so far and how we can compromise with the fun or the show and also with the sport and put something together for next year.

“But not in December, hopefully in the summer, to do all these kinds of things a bit more efficiently. But I would say, for sure, the fun on Sunday, like we saw today, all the action, what was going on, it was clearly because of these [available] points.

“So, the positives are there as well.”