When Kalle Rovanperä clinched his fifth victory from the first seven rallies of 2022, it became clear that he was running away with the World Rally Championship title.
Even after being beaten on home ground by Ott Tänak, and then crashing on the Ypres and Acropolis rallies, Rovanperä never really looked like being caught. He duly clinched his maiden top-level title next time out in New Zealand, with two rallies to spare.
It was a crushing display of dominance by the Toyota driver.
But how does Rovanperä’s superiority stack up against the most dominant campaigns in WRC history? Thanks to the archive on our sister site, ewrc-results.com, we have conducted an analysis.
Rovanperä’s mid-season wobble, allied to a non-score in the Rally Japan finale, meant that his final points tally was not quite as high as where it had looked to be heading. Nevertheless, his score of 255 was still 50 points clear of second-placed Tänak.
With 30 points on offer at each rally, Rovanperä’s total equates to a pretty impressive 65.4% of the total possible points that can be scored over the whole season.
But that, in fact, does not place him in the top half of the most dominant champions in the 25 years since drivers could count scores from every round of the championship. Rovanperä’s tally comes in only 15th.
The driver he beat to the 2022 title, Tänak, edged his performance when he scored 263 points from 13 rallies (67.4% of the maximum) in 2019.
Next above them both on the list comes Tommi Mäkinen. When 20 points were awarded for a win, and there were no powerstage bonuses, the man who would go on to become Toyota team principal scored 123 from a possible 180 points (68.3%) on the way to his first world title in 1996. Mäkinen took his Mitsubishi Lancer to five wins in nine rounds that year, the last of the WRC’s mid-’90s policy of shorter calendars and event rotation.
The top 12 seasons that were closest to perfection all belong to the two most successful drivers in WRC history: Sébastiens Loeb and Ogier.
Citroën star Loeb won his first title in 2004, when the scoring system gave only 10 points for a win, tallying 118 points from a possible 160. That equates to 73.8%, smashing Mäkinen’s record.
He then bettered it the following year, scooping 127 points – including 10 wins – from the 16 events, or 79.5% of the maximum. A couple of slightly leaner years followed, including when Loeb missed four rallies due to injury and yet still bettered Mäkinen’s previous points percentage.
Loeb then improved his own record even further as he took his fifth title in 2008 with 11 wins from 15 rallies. He chalked up 122 out of 150 points, or a staggering 81.3% of the perfect score.
In all, only one of Loeb’s nine world championships – his 2011 success, when he was run close by both Mikko Hirvonen and his own team-mate Ogier – does not feature in the 15 most dominant title campaigns in WRC history.
Ogier’s switch to WRC newcomer Volkswagen heralded the start of a new era of dominance from 2013, and all four of Ogier’s titles with the German marque better Rovanperä’s tally in terms of points percentage.
Best of the bunch was actually Ogier’s first world title in 2013. Nine wins and two second places from 13 rallies took Ogier to 290 out of a possible 364 points, or 79.7%. That is third on the all-time list behind Loeb’s 2008 success and the most dominant championship campaign of all – which came from that man Loeb again in 2010.
That year, Loeb finished every single rally in the top five, winning eight times and scoring four further podiums.
In the final year before bonus points were introduced for the final stafe – and the first where wins were rewarded with 25 points – it meant Loeb scored 276 out of a possible 325 points or an astounding 84.9% of a perfect score.
So while Rovanperä’s 2022 championship was an extremely strong performance, he still has some way to go if he’s to match the most dominant title wins of all.
What is noticeable in our analysis is that the 2017 rules reset – and Volkswagen’s departure – brought a new era of competitiveness to the WRC. Even the great Ogier has been unable to match his previous dominance with the four titles he won in 2017-2021.
And in that context, Rovanperä’s title stacks up extremely well, bettered only by Tänak in 2019.
Most dominant WRC seasons