We control the horizontal. We control the vertical

The season hasn’t even started yet and 2020 is already wild. New events, new drivers, one of the wildest rounds of driver musical chairs ever, this is going to be a year to remember. It’s also going to be the hardest year of Fantasy WRC to date, because we’ve got new rules. So hold on to yer butts.

2019 Winners

The 2019 Fantasy championship was a story two players and an incredible where-did-he-come-from finish. FreddsterExprs straight up owned the season. He took the points lead at the second round and from there on he was untouchable. RubyLocks222 meanwhile struggled to get out of the box. He managed a top-5 result in the first round, but followed that up with one of the worst scores in Sweden, and a similar lackluster performance in Mexico that had him outside of the top 15 in the championship. In the fourth round he came back to life with another top 5, then rattled off a string of six straight podium finishes, including two wins. By what ended up being the penultimate round (thanks to Australia being cancelled) he was all the way up to second, a mere single point behind Freddster. A solid sixth-best pick in Spain for Ruby and bad round for Fredd sealed the deal, promoting RubyLocks222 into the top spot and, with no Australia, championship victory.

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Best single round score goes to the player who showed up for the first round, achieved (near) perfection, then vanished. Lumpy44 correctly predicted the top 5, in order, at Monte Carlo. His only failing was picking the driver who finished second on the Power Stage instead of the power stage winner, meaning he only scored 97 points out of a possible 99. But as the only player to even touch the 90s he easily gets the prize for best single score.

If you are Lumpy44 or RubyLocks222 please email me at howdeedoodat@gmail.com so I can send you your prize.

FANTASY 2020

RULES

With the loss of Citroen in the WRC there are now only three teams with only eight full time cars running. That means picking five WRC drivers would mean each fantasy roster would contain as much as 63% of the entire WRC entry. I’m not a fan of this. So for 2020 we’re doing something different. This year you are to pick four WRC drivers, plus one WRC2/R5/RGT driver. There are a lot of R5 drivers in the WRC (32 on the Monte Carlo entry list alone) so I won’t be tracking them with stats like I have with the WRC drivers, or even list them. I will however include a link to the R5 entries at the bottom of each fantasy preview.

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Points for your R5/RGT pick will be awarded based on how the driver finished within the R5 category, with the top 8 finishers earning points based on the old FIA points structure:
1st - 10 pts
2nd - 8 pts
3rd - 6 pts
4th - 5 pts
5th - 4 pts
6th - 3 pts
7th - 2 pts
8th - 1 pts

Points for your four WRC picks will remain as normal, earning the same number of points the driver takes from the event (minus their power stage points). Here are the rest of the rules:

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  • You may have up to two drivers from a single factory team in your fantasy roster.
  • 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 four main drivers or a teammate of one of your four main drivers.
  • There will be a Fantasy Preview post put up on The Rally Takeover at 1 PM(ish) 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*
  • 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 nine 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
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POINTS

  • Fantasy points will be given as follows:
    (1) for each of your four main drivers you earn the same amount of points the driver earned (minus their earned power stage points).
    (2) the top 8 R5/RGT drivers will earn fantasy points as shown above. 1st-10pts, 2nd-8pts, 3rd-6pts, 4th-5pts, 5th-4pts, 6th-3pts, 7th-2pts, 8th-1pts.
    (3) 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.
    (4) If the driver you predicted to win does, in fact, win, you will earn three bonus points.
    (5) If all four of your fantasy drivers finish in the points in the order you predicted you will earn ten bonus points.
    (6) 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.
    (7) 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.
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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:

Before each rally you pick four WRC drivers plus an R5/RGT driver. You can pick up to two drivers from each 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 four WRC drivers in the order you think they’ll finish. You will receive the number of championship points your driver earns in the rally.

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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 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.

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Current prizes:

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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.

2020 World Rally Championship Calendar:

1. January 23-26: Rallye Monte Carlo
2. February 13-16: Rally Sweden
3. March 12-15: Rally Mexico
4. April 16-19: Rally Chile CANCELLED
5. April 23-26: Rally Argentina
6. May 21-24: Rally de Portugal
7. June 4-7: Rally d’Italia Sardegna
8. July 16-19: Safari Rally Kenya
9. August 6-9: Rally Finland
10. September 3-6: Rally New Zealand
11. September 24-27: Rally Turkey
12. October 15-18: Rallye Deutschland
13. October 29-November 1: Wales Rally GB
14. November 19-22: Rally Japan

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*My Twitter / my email

**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”

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Side note: as always M-Sport wins at both liveries and press photos.

Rallye Monte Carlo Preview

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And here we go, straight into the first round of 2019, the most prestigious rally in the world, Rallye Monte Carlo. If you don’t already know the rally and what it brings then I wonder if Fantasy WRC is really your thing, but here’s a refresher anyways. Rallye Monte Carlo is a tarmac rally with a tendency to be part ice/snow courtesy of some stages twisting up into the Alps. Grip is extremely unpredictable, there is no correct tire choice, and sometimes the secret to winning is crawling through a section of ice at 20 mph on tarmac tires.

Between Seb Ogier and Seb Loeb there are 13 Monte Carlo wins (14 if you count Ogier’s win when it was part of the IRC in 2009. Ogier is on a hot streak of 6 straight in 3 different cars, Loeb has the advantage of coming into it this year in a car he’s already familiar with (and this year won’t be coming straight from Dakar). Will that give the elder Seb the edge over the younger, who will be learning his new Yaris during this year’s event? What about the others? Tanak has been fast here the past few years and as a champion has momentum behind him. Neuville finished within three seconds of Ogier at last year’s round, the only driver within two minutes of the leader, and has the most seat time of anyone in their current car. The rest of the field is certainly one to watch as well, with Lappi moving to M-Sport, Evans to Toyota, and prodigal son Rovenpara joining the game.

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Side note: I predict Ott and Thierry, and specifically the dynamic between them, will be ones to watch this season. A few quotes from late last year subtly suggested Thierry wanted Ott in the Hyundai in part because Thierry felt he could beat Ott in equal equipment. The two are likely to push each other throughout the season.

Here’s the current fantasy points spreadsheet (surprise! It’s blank!). And while you’re at it, you can also look at the driver’s data and statistics here.

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DEADLINE FOR PICKS: January 23, 2019, 2:38 PM EST
(5 point per stage penalty after this time. Stage schedule here. Calculate deadline in your time zone here.)

M-SPORT FORD WRT - FORD FIESTA RS WRC
Esapekka Lappi (FIN) - Avg last 10 rounds: 6.0 - Avg Monte: 3.0
Teemu Suninen (FIN) - Avg last 10 rounds: 7.8 - Avg Monte: 0.0
Gus Greensmith (GBR) - Avg last 3 rounds: 0.7 - Avg Monte: N/A

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HYUNDAI SHELL MOBIS WRT - HYUNDAI I20 COUPE WRC
Ott Tanak (EST) - Avg last 10 rounds: 16.5 - Avg Monte: 9.7
Thierry Neuville (BEL) - Avg last 10 rounds: 14.3 - Avg Monte: 6.6
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) - Avg last 10 rounds: 8.8 - Avg Monte: 16.5

TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WRT - TOYOTA YARIS WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) - Avg last 10 rounds: 12.6 - Avg Monte: 24.0
Elfyn Evans (GBR) - Avg last 10 rounds: 9.2 - Avg Monte: 6.0
Kalle Rovanpera (FIN) - Avg last 0 rounds: N/A - Avg Monte: N/A

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SINGLE CAR TEAMS AND INDEPENDENTS:
Takamoto Katsuta (JPN) - TOYOTA - Avg last 2 rounds: 0.5 - Avg Monte: N/A
Daividas Jocius (LTU) - FORD - Avg last 0 rounds: N/A - Avg Monte: N/A

WRC2/R5 ENTRY LIST

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