WRC points system criticised by its biggest beneficiary

Elfyn Evans outscored Rally Sweden winner Esapekka Lappi – but is still against the new points system regardless


The World Rally Championship’s new points system. Which camp are you in?

The most radical change to scoring in WRC history certainly sparked debate when it was announced for this year. It’s fair to say it received a mixed reception.

Elfyn Evans was one of its most outspoken critics. “It’s majorly devalued a win,” he told DirtFish before the season started. And he hasn’t changed his mind – despite arguably being its biggest beneficiary so far.

The overhaul was designed to bring more interest to WRC Sundays, where there was a tendency for drivers to go through the motions – at least until the powerstage – as the leaderboard became strung out.

Many had been crying out for change. And change was delivered. Gone were points awarded for the rally as a whole. Instead, in their place came one tranche for positions at the end of Saturday – provided those drivers made the finish on Sunday – and a smaller slice based on a classification of Sunday’s stages only.

The powerstage bonuses remained unchanged, leaving the maximum achievable from a rally unmoved at 30.

Monte Carlo came and went, and the new system seemed to have little impact. The fight for victory raged through Sunday morning, and Thierry Neuville scooped a maximum for topping all three classifications.

So far, so good. But what about when a driver holds a clear advantage on the timesheets and does not want to jeopardize a win by pursuing those Super Sunday bonuses?

That’s exactly the scenario that played out in Sweden. Seeking his second career victory, and a first for six-and-a-half years, there was no way Esapekka Lappi was taking any risks on Sunday.


Esapekka Lappi would have parked up and had a fika with the Rally Sweden spectators if it guaranteed him reaching the finish line in first place

And so the door was open for someone else to score more points than the rally winner.

Enter Elfyn Evans. With road position against him on Friday, particularly once elevated by Thierry Neuville to be first into the stages, Evans had no realistic chance of winning the event.

But, every point could be crucial in his world title bid. Beaten by Lappi and Adrien Fourmaux into third on Saturday night, Evans could still score an additional 12 points on Sunday.

A couple of tiny errors in the closing yards of the powerstage meant he failed in the quest to bank them all by less than 0.1s, but 11 out of 12 ain’t bad.

And with Lappi’s caution meaning he earned only a solitary Sunday point to add to the 18 he’d already provisionally banked, second-placed Evans outscored the rally winner by a full five points.

Regardless of its merits, the new system rewards a clever strategy. It rewards an intelligent approach.


Evans scored an extra two points in Sweden compared to what he would have picked up in the pre-2024 system

When DirtFish put that to Evans in Umeå on Sunday lunchtime, his response was unequivocal.

“I still don’t think it’s right,” said Evans. “EP’s won today and he has a load less points than I do. Whatever the circumstances, I don’t think that’s right.

“So even though I’ve come out all right with the new points system, I’m still not an advocate for it.”

That is pretty damning from the driver who gained the most from the system.

It’s probably still too early to make an objective judgement. We’ve only seen the impact of two scenarios so far, and there will be plenty of different sets of circumstances to come on future events.

And the system did, after all, ensure that the likes of Evans, Neuville, and Friday retirees Kalle Rovanperä and Ott Tänak pushed through all of Sunday’s stages and not just the powerstage.

That’s what it was designed to do.


Rovanperä won the powerstage by 0.039s – but only because Evans pushed so hard that he glanced a snowbank and shaved crucial speed off

But while meeting that objective, has it gone too far and devalued a victory?

Esapekka Lappi certainly didn’t feel any less joyful than he would have done by being rewarded with 25 points.

But it’s safe to say the new system is yet to win over its detractors.

Words:Mark Paulson, Colin Clark