Why Evans is wrong about the WRC points system

Toyota’s Welshman starred in the snow last week. He needs to enjoy the spoils of that speed

Evans 200224

Elfyn Evans is wrong. At least, he’s wrong this week. Because this week, I like the new World Rally Championship’s shiny new points system.

Post-Monte? Ambivalent. It didn’t really change anything. Didn’t really make any difference. On Sunday, I was on the same page as the rule-makers. Suddenly, I could see.

Rally Sweden was, for me, an extraordinary performance from Evans and Scott Martin – right up there with any of their world championship wins. And the new points structure rewarded them for their fighting spirit and Sunday speed.

Let’s face it, Evans’ chances of repeating his 2020 Swedish win were scuppered as soon as the snow started falling. And forgot to stop. Or were they? Ready for some numbers? Evans was 32 seconds off the lead when he found himself first on the road on Friday. Had he stayed second on the road, what could he have done?

An easy way to work that out is to consider Thierry Neuville’s times for stages six, seven and eight. The Belgian, who slipped behind the Toyota on the road from SS6 onwards, dropped 56 seconds to leader Esappeka Lappi as Friday afternoon became Friday evening – but don’t forget he had that bonnet pin thing going on, so that would have cost him some time. Let’s say Evans would have lost, I don’t know, 48 seconds.

Add that to the 32 he was already trailing P1 and Evans goes into Saturday 1m20s behind Lappi. Stick with me. I’m going somewhere with this. But it sounds fair so far?


Now, how did Evans fare against ultimate winner EP on the weekend?

He was 1m20s quicker…

Yes, I’m very well aware Lappi was driving defensively to protect a minute and a half lead and could have gone a whole heap quicker – and more than likely would still have won. And he deserved that win, Friday’s events were nothing to do with him. He did his job. He built a lead and defended it. He drove fast, then he drove safe. He did exactly what he had to do.

But in terms of ultimate speed and performance, Evans was the #1 driver in Sweden last week.

Granted, he should have nailed even more points by getting past Adrien Fourmaux by the end of Saturday, but it’s enlightening to see the data and understand just how much power his GR Yaris Rally1 lost while it was strangled by the snow in SS11. And then there was the lack of rear grip on Saturday evening’s run around the Umeå Sprint.

(Two things here, I’m no Evans apologist, if he’s slow I’ll call him slow – but he’s one of the most up front and honest drivers I’ve ever met. If he says his car was down on power and loose, it was. Second thing, I’m taking nothing away from Fourmaux – his performance was above and beyond what was expected or his experience should have permitted; he was awesome.)

Across the spread of Saturday, nobody was faster than Evans. It was the same story on Sunday, when the Toyota man was rewarded with seven bonus points.

He ended the event 29.6s off the win, having gone to bed on Friday night fifth and almost two minutes off P1. If that’s not a drive worthy of a big points haul, I don’t know what is.

Perhaps more than anywhere else Evans showed his mettle on Sunday. He got to it and laid down those times. Intentionally or not, it was a beautiful two-fingered salute to those who thought his rally might have been ruined on Friday afternoon.

In short, his was a rally worthy of at least 24 of the 30 points on offer.

It was a graphic demonstration of precisely how the new points system rewards commitment to the very end. Lappi took just one of the 12 on offer for Sunday – his view of final-day risk and reward was, understandably, 100% different to that of Evans.

The points were there for anybody to take, but they were only ever going to – and will only ever go to – the driver willing to put it all on the line. On Sunday, that was Evans.

Good on you, #33 – you earned them. Now enjoy them and stop deriding the points system which rightly rewarded your weekend’s work.

That said, stay tuned and give it a week, my opinion on the points system might well have changed…