With the allure of the overall title, the quality in WRC2 and the intrigue following tomorrow’s superstars in Junior WRC, WRC3 can often be the forgotten, or overlooked, championship within the World Rally Championship.
Yet it keeps delivering insane title conclusions!
Last year, a 10-second time penalty was effectively what swung the title in Lauri Joona’s direction. This year, another Finn could emerge victorious thanks to the tiebreak rule… it really is that close!
Allow us to explain.
Roope Korhonen has been the breakthrough star of the Rally3 field in 2023. Victory in Sweden was the perfect way to kick off the season, and the then 24-year-old backed that up with three more victories in Portugal, Sardinia and Estonia.
Four wins from four starts. And better still, he topped the RC3 class on all four – meaning that he beat the Junior WRC winner in Sweden, Sardinia and Estonia.
From a championship perspective, WRC3 allows competitors to enter a maximum of five events, with their four best scores contributing to their final points tally. Korhonen still has an event to spare, but it’s meaningless as with no powerstage in the category it’s impossible to score higher than the 100 points he has amassed.
So Korhonen therefore can’t be beaten. But he can be matched.
Victory for Diego Domínguez on this weekend’s Rally Chile would move the Paraguayan level with Korhonen on 100 points. The only way the championship could be settled is via a tiebreak.
Let’s reach for the WRC’s sporting regulations for an explanation; specifically Article 8 which concentrates on a dead heat in the championship.
Article 8.1.1 states that a championship could be decided by the greatest number of first places, second places and so on, and if that isn’t applicable then 8.1.2 dictates that it could come down to the best non-points finishes.
But the trouble is, there’s still little to separate Korhonen and Domínguez through this method.
If Junior WRC runner-up Domínguez does win in Chile, then he would have four victories just like Korhonen. He would also have a fourth place finish from Sweden, but that could be deemed irrelevant given the dropped score rule.
So instead Article 8.1.3 could be what decides the championship in this scenario. And that effectively gives the FIA the power to declare the winner.
Article 8.1.3 states: “In the event of a further tie, the FIA itself will decide the winner and decide between any other tying drivers and co-drivers, on the basis of whatever other considerations it thinks appropriate.”
DirtFish has been in contact with the FIA and in this scenario, it is understood that Korhonen would likely be chosen as the WRC3 champion.
That’s because of the three events both drivers have competed on (albeit just one with both drivers registered for WRC3 points), Korhonen has beaten Domínguez on all of them.
This bizarre scenario of course requires Domínguez to win this weekend, but with just one rival – Eduardo Castro – in Chile, that would appear fairly probable.
And if that does happen and he doesn’t get the nod over Korhonen to be crowned WRC3 champion, cruelly Domínguez will have missed out on two world titles this year and by just eight points.