Why a mid-season WRC points system change is unlikely

Any change would require unanimous approval from competitors according to FIA rally director

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One thing more than any other has been a consistent talking point in the 2024 World Rally Championship: the new points system.

The FIA has made it clear that it would monitor how things unfolded with the revised approach to rewarding success but, despite protests from some drivers and significant backlash among fans, FIA rally director Andrew Wheatley has said that any change before the end of the season is unlikely.

The decision to award points for a crew’s performance over Friday and Saturday, and then effectively start again with another set of points for Sunday was undoubtedly bold.

It was also a change that took some time to agree on. “The point system discussion was rolling for probably two years, two and a half years,” Wheatley revealed. “And every commission, ‘Oh, maybe we could try this, we could do this, we could do this.’

“And it got to the point at the end of last year where we believed we had the best compromise. The best compromise. Not the solution, the best compromise for the problems that we’ve got at that time.

“Now, maybe by doing that, we will create some new problems that we have to then look at. And that’s generally how it works. When you fix one bit, the next bit needs a bit of tweaking to go into place.”

There is no shortage of people who believe that tweaking is required, as social media has been awash with criticism of the new system, while Croatia Rally winner Sébastien Ogier described it as a “joke” in an interview with DirtFish.

Croatia was certainly another illustration of how the system can cause controversy and, as Elfyn Evans has pointed out, reward drivers who finish further down the order.

Ott Tänak had what could only be described as a below-average rally last weekend. He never really looked like troubling those ahead of him, eventually finishing fourth overall and taking a solitary stage win.


Evans finished second in Croatia - but was outscored by a below-par Tänak

However, he came away from Zagreb with 20 points – just a single point fewer than rally winner Ogier and one more than both Evans and Thierry Neuville, who had fought tooth-and-nail for the rally lead for most of the weekend.

When asked about how the new system was working, Wheatley suggested that, when it comes to the aim of ending Sunday cruising, it is doing its job.

“I think we’ve had now probably a couple of ends of the spectrum,” he said. “Monte Carlo, hardly any difference. And in Sweden and Kenya, it made quite a big difference. I don’t think we’ve had any people reporting at the end of a Sunday stage, I’m just driving around. I think at the moment what we’ve got is pretty much everybody’s going pretty much flat out.”

The intention of the point system is to let it run for the year Andrew Wheatley

However, Wheatley admitted that it has changed the dynamic of rallies. He said: “OK, it’s a bit crazy because now everybody’s thinking about Sunday and wants to go to Sunday and Sunday, Sunday. Forget about the two days that we need to get to Sunday, just go to Sunday. And maybe we need to look and understand how that balance works.”

If the FIA does decide that change is required, both regulatory and logistical reasons mean that it could be very difficult to achieve that before the end of the season. Wheatley explained: “Rules are set year by year. So, the point system, if you want to change the point system in the year, you have to have unanimous agreement of every registered competitor. That’s incredibly difficult to do.

“We did it once with COVID and that was incredibly difficult. It involved physically phoning people and saying, you need to do this, otherwise we can’t do it.

“So the intention of the point system is to let it run for the year. But we are constantly monitoring it, event by event, to understand what the implications are, what the opportunities are.”