What’s the point of the WRC’s updated scoring system?

A necessary fix for Sunday driving or a step too far? David Evans evaluates the recent changes

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What’s the point? No, seriously, what is the point? That’s the question more than a few of you have contacted us with following the reveal of the FIA’s new reward structure for those winning rounds of the World Rally Championship next season.

Maybe the first point is to understand what actually winning a WRC round means now. Is it the person who finishes first in the classification or is it the person who departs an event with the most points?

This season – and forever before – it was one and the same. Back in the very olden days a win meant 10 points, six for second. Powerstage extras were a pipe dream.

Later came 25 for a win, 18 for the runner-up and a possible bonus five. The winner would always take away at least two more points than anybody else who had taken longer than them to complete the route.

Clearly, you liked that: the crew quickest across two, three, four, five – or however many days a WRC round once was – should be rewarded with the most points.

Next season the winner could take 18 points with the second-placed driver and co-driver taking 27.



OK… here comes the explainer. Then the math.

Next year’s sporting regulations dictate that points will be awarded for the general classification on Saturday night. That’s 18 for the win, 15 for second, etc, down to a single point for sitting 10th ahead of the final day.

Those Saturday points are only cemented when a crew is confirmed in the event’s final classification; you must finish Sunday to claim Friday-Saturday points.

Sunday’s where the change comes. If you’re quickest through the final day, you’ll bag seven points, with a bonus on offer down to seventh (which merits a single point). The powerstage point structure remains unchanged with a win lifting five.

Ready for the numbers? Driver A has romped away into a two-minute lead through the first two days and lays one hand on an 18-point haul for their efforts.

Through Sunday, however, there’s a nightmare and virtually all of those two minutes are lost. Sixth quickest on the powerstage rounds out a shocker of a day where Driver A is eighth fastest across the day.

The overall classification reveals a one-second win and 18 points. Driver B, second on Saturday night, has been on a Sunday mission and smashed the powerstage. They’ve taken their 15 Saturday night points, added a Sunday win (seven) and a full-fat powerstage bonus (five) and walked away with 27.

That’s nine more than the crew who have been fastest across the whole route.

Right or wrong?

More than a few of you think that’s skewed too far.

Is this going to confuse the casual fan? Yes David Evans

Maybe we need to rewind and question the need for change. The problem is the gaps which build through the first two days. Once crews are going into the final day with more than half a minute on the car behind, the gap is largely manageable.

Even without split times being beamed into cars, drivers know their pace and know how to stay ahead. That issue is exacerbated – and the pace slowed even further – with bigger gaps.

The reason? Everybody’s saving their tires for the powerstage. Everybody wants as much grip beneath them as possible when it comes to fighting for five points.

Let’s take this back a step further. The wider issue is the lack of competition, the lack of cars. The more cars, the more competition, the tighter the fight. It’s not always the case, but it’s considerably more likely.


Make the World Rally Championship even more attractive to manufacturers, teams and privateers – get the mix of technical regulations, promotion and sporting sense right – and we’ll pack entries out once more.

That bigger picture is being addressed by Robert Reid and David Richards via the FIA’s recently convened working group.

A shorter term solution suggested by a good few of you is the installation of a tire fitting zone before every powerstage. That would likely remove some of the tire-saving aspect, but it’s still not incentivizing crews to push.

The tire zone and a single-point stage win bonus for every Sunday test might work. But you’re back into the territory of the rally winners not necessarily being the best-rewarded crew across the event.

Rallye of Great Britain, Cardiff 22/25 10 2009

One thing we can absolutely agree on is that the most straightforward system was the one that went out of the window in 2009 – when a win was worth 10 points and second place took eight (upgraded from six in 2003). No fancy bonuses, just reward for a rally well run and won.

While the whole Driver A and B scenario is unlikely to play out often next season, there will be elements of it, and finding a way to explain how a driver who ‘won’ 18 points on Friday and Saturday is denied them by, for example, mechanical failure on Sunday. And, don’t forget, this is only for WRC. WRC2 runs to the same structure as last season – and actually loses its powerstage bonus points.

Is this going to confuse the casual fan? Yes.

I think we can agree that something had to be done. It was probably more confusing for somebody to tune in on a Sunday, watch Kalle Rovanperä ‘crawling’ through early Sunday stages, then smiling into the camera and telling the world: “I’m saving the tires.”


Ours is already a nuanced sport fraught with intricacies ready to catch out the unaware.

While trying to grab a generation with an attention span not overly longer than the memory of a goldfish (I say this as the father of two teenage children…), this is not going to help.

But, like I said, something had to be done, and direction and drive down that route is always welcome. Ultimately, the FIA has demonstrated an understanding of the issue and a desire to put it right.

Trust me, that’s progress from where we’ve been down the decades.

Ultimately, points will still equal prizes and the driver taking the biggest prize will never change: they’re the one who’s spent the most time on the throttle and bothered the brake the least.