Welcome back, folks. It’s just over two weeks to the start of the 2016 World Rally Championship season, which means it’s time to start talking fantasy, and man is there a lot to talk about. Manufactuers are changing, drivers are changing, fantasy rules are... pretty much staying the same. Well someone has to maintain order in this madness, right?

RULES

Gotta love it when I can just copy-paste things. Here are the 2016 rules, much like the 2015 rules:

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  • For each round you are to pick five drivers, ranked in the order you expect them to finish. No two drivers can be from the same team, though they can be on separate teams run under the same manufacturer. So, for example, you can’t choose Ogier and Latvala, but you can choose Ogier and Mikkelsen, because officially Mikkelsen is on “Volkswagen Motorsport 2.” While the fantasy preview posts typically only make mention of the WRC drivers, all entered drivers are eligible for fantasy competition, be them WRC, WRC2, RGT, etc.
  • You must also select the driver you think will win the power stage. Your power stage pick can be absolutely anyone, including one of your five main drivers or a teammate of one of your five main drivers.
  • There will be a Fantasy Preview post put up on The Rally Takeover at 1 PM Eastern on the Monday before each WRC round. These preview posts traditionally include a brief description of the event, the drivers entered in the WRC category and what teams they are on, and basic stats on each driver (average finish over their past 10 starts and average finish at that particular event) You may make your fantasy picks in the comments section of the post (as is tradition) or you may tweet/email your picks to me*
  • If you need to get your fantasy picks in early you can tweet/email me*
  • You can also sign up for fantasy reminders. Provide me with your Twitter account or email and I’ll let you know when the latest Fantasy Preview post has gone up.
  • The deadline for picks is the official start time of the event’s first stage. You can get your picks in late, but you will be penalized five points for each stage started before you post your picks.
  • Once you’ve posted your picks you cannot change them with one exception: if one or more of your drivers has an incident (crash, illness, injury, withdrawal, etc) after you’ve made your picks but before the start of the rally you may adjust their position in your roster or replace them entirely without penalty. When making your alterations/substitutions you must state the reason for the change.
  • At the end of the season your best ten rounds will be counted and your worst four will be dropped. That means if you started late, missed a couple rounds, or managed to have all your picks drive off the same cliff in Portugal it won’t ruin your season.
  • The season standings will be maintained in this Google Spreadsheet. For an idea of what it will look like once the season gets underway here’s the 2015 season spreadsheet. I try to update the fantasy standings within 24 hours of the end of the rally, but may be late some days due to work/travel. I do promise to always have the stats updated by Thursday at the latest.

POINTS

  • Fantasy points will be given as follows:
    (1) for each of your five main drivers you earn the same amount of points the driver earned (minus their earned power stage points).
    (2) the top five power stage finishing drivers will earn fantasy points, with those points being given out as follows: 1st-6pts, 2nd-4pts, 3rd-3pts, 4th-2pts, 5th-1pts.
    (3) If the driver you predicted to win does, in fact, win, you will earn three bonus points.
    (4) If all five of your fantasy drivers finish in the points in the order you predicted you will earn ten bonus points.
    (5) Each fantasy competitors ten best rounds will be counted toward their final season score. That means if a player is forced to miss a couple rounds or simply gets their picks all wrong a few times it won’t necessarily cost them a decent result.
    (6) Tie breakers: If, at the end of the season, there is a tie at the top of the standings (or a tie for highest single round score), the tie will be broken using the following methods, in order: Most round wins, round 2nd place, round 3 place, round top 5’s, round top 10’s, battle of wits to the death.

I know that seems like a lot to take in, so if you’re good and confused here’s a cliff’s notes version of all you really need to know:

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Before each rally you pick five drivers. No two drivers can be from the same team. You also pick a driver for the power stage (final stage of the rally). He can be absolutely anyone, including one of the five drivers you already picked. Put your five drivers in the order you think they’ll finish. You will receive the number of championship points your driver earns in the rally.

PRIZES

Prizes are back! There will be two prize-winners at the end of the season, the overall season champion and the player who scored the most points in a single round.** Each will get their choice of one of four 1:43 scale model rally cars, with the season champion getting first pick. Due to shipping costs only U.S. and Canadian residents will be eligible for the pictured prizes. Fantasy players outside the U.S./Canada are still eligible for a 1:43 scale model, with the exact model they receive TBD by availability.

If the season champion is also the player with the highest single round the player will get both prizes, and because I’m a softie the player with the next highest single round will receive a prize as well.

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Here are the prizes on offer this year.


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SEASON

The first big change to the season comes with the schedule, as we’ve picked up a new round in China, making the season 14 events instead of 13, and Australia has been moved to the end of the season. Because Wales at the end of November is not a nice place to be. October should prove to be interesting, with three rallies during the month.

2016 World Rally Championship Calendar:

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1. January 22-24: Rallye Monte Carlo
2. February 12-14: Rally Sweden
3. March 4-6: Rally Mexico
4. April 22-24: Rally Argentina
5. May 20-22: Rally de Portugal
6. June 10-12: Rally d’Italia Sardegna
7. July 1-3: Rally Poland
8. July 29-31: Rally Finland
9. August 19-21: Rallye Deutschland (Germany)
10. September 9-11: China Rally
11. September 30-October 2: Tour de Corse (France)
12. October 14-16: Rally Catalunya (Spain)
13. October 28-30: Wales Rally GB
14. November 18-20: Rally Australia

The other big change is in the teams. There’s been a lot of musical chairs in the off season. Citroen are taking a year off, so they can focus on building the 2017 car (and fulfill their 2016 WTCC sponsor obligation). Abu Dhabi will be running at least a part season effort with most of Factory Citroen’s assets and staff. Meanwhile DMack has decided to step up to becoming a legitimate manufacturer team. As for driver changes, VW stays the same with their stable, Hyundai keeps their same three drivers (Neuville, Sordo, and Paddon) but haven’t announced which of the three will be on the B team yet (prediction: not Paddon), M-Sport dropped both their 2015 drivers in favor of Mads Ostberg and some kid named Eric Camilli, and “Citroen” now has Meeke, Lefebvre, Breen, and Al-Qassimi (though god knows when and where we’ll see any of them).

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2016 WRC teams and competitors

VOLKSWAGEN MOTORSPORT
–Sebastien Ogier
–Jari-matti Latvala

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ABU DHABI TOTAL WORLD RALLY TEAM
–Kris Meeke
–Stephane Lefebvre
–Craig Breen
–Khalid Al-Qassimi

M-SPORT WORLD RALLY TEAM
–Mads Ostberg
–Eric Camilli
–Bryan Bouffier

HYUNDAI MOTORSPORT
–Thierry Neuville
–Dani Sordo
–Hayden Paddon

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VOLKSWAGEN MOTORSPORT 2
–Andreas Mikkelsen

RK WORLD RALLY TEAM
–Robert Kubica

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FUCKMATIE WORLD RALLY TEAM (probably to be under a new name)
–Lorenzo Bertelli

Drive DMack World Rally Team
–Ott Tanak

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That’s pretty much it. Whether you’re a returning player or a new competitor, thank you for being a part of the 2016 Fantasy WRC season. I’ve had fun putting this on and expanding the program each year. I look forward to destroying you all!

...did I say that out loud?


*My Twitter / my email

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**To be eligible for the “single round points” prize you must have made your picks before the start of the rally. We’ll call this the “Alex Kihurani Rule”