That was approximately the thought going through my head as I looked at the calendar for the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship. April has barely started, and the first round of the season is set to be held at a new track at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Wait, WHAT?
Like Dusty, my work hours have increased the last 8 months (not a bad thing in itself) and Fantasy WorldRX has subsequently landed far in the back of my head. The photos showing the cars being loaded up for air transport to Abu Dhabi suddenly made me realize that it is time to write this preview, little under two weeks before the racing starts. Coffee was needed for writing this one, that’s for sure.
It’s fair to say that things aren’t actually quite as well as they used to be in rallycross. since last year, all the manufacturers pulled their support to their teams, meaning that pretty much the whole series was in question. The dominance of the VW team in addition to increasing costs are two of the main reasons, a lack of clarity with regard to the sports electric future another. A number of cost-cutting measures were implemented, as the critizised COTA was dropped from the calendar and Estering agreed to only host the European Championship this year. That left us at 10 rounds, which I think is a bit low. Including EuroRX at Estering as a round of our game only seems right then! The full calendar is available below. Please note that Mettet has been replaced by a new track at Spa-Francorchamps, where they will incorporate Eau-Rouge in the rallycross track.
2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship Calendar:
05-07 April: Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi
27-29 April: Circuit de Catalunya, Spain
11-13 May: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
25-27 May: Silverstone, Great Britain*
15-17 June: Hell, Norway*
06-08 July: Höljes, Sweden*
03-05 August: GP3R, Canada
17-18 August: Estering, Germany*
31-02 September: Loheac, France*
14-16 September: Bikernieki, Latvia*
09-11 November: Killarney, South Africa
After three years I’ve decided to mix the rules up a bit. The basics remain the same, but there’s one addition worth noting.
- For each round you pick six drivers, ranked in the order you expect them to score points. You may only pick one driver from each team. In the events with EuroRX running together with WorldRX, you may mix drivers from both entry lists in order to score the most points. Only drivers competing in the Supercar class is eligible for fantasy competetition.
- You are awarded the combined score of points of all you picks, and if they scored in the order you picked you recieve an additional 10 points.
- New rule: You can now pick one driver who you expect to win the Supercharge Award in the final. If the picked driver does actually win the award, you will be awarded an additional 10 points. If your driver doesn’t win the award or you do not pick a driver, you will earn 0 points. If your picked driver does not make it to the semifinals, 10 points will be deducted from your score. EuroRX drivers are not available for this part.
- There will be a Fantasy Preview post put up on The Rally Takeover at 1 PM Eastern (7PM CEST). These preview posts will include a description of the event, the entry list and basic stats on each driver. Comment on the post or send me a tweet (@Hoccy) in order to make you picks.
- The deadline for the picks is the start of Q1, but you can get picks in late. You will then be penalized 15 points for each qualifying session started before your picks.
- Once you’ve posted your picks you cannot change them unless the driver in question has an incident after you’ve made you picks but before the start of Free Practice. When making your alterations you must state the reason for the change.
- At the end of the season your four worst scores will be dropped. That means a bad event at the start of the season won’t ruin everything, as it may not count in the end.
- The season standings will be maintained in this Google Spreadsheet (link coming). I’ll try to update the standings as soon after the event as possible.
The last couple of years I’ve given away an item free to pick from the official FIA World Rallycross fanstore as a prize, but as in the past I may stumble across something cool when I attend an event or in the internet, I’ll be able to offer something more unique.
As mentioned, the season and several drivers were left standing after Peugeot, Audi and Volkswagen pulled out of the series. What now? Were there enough privateers interested to enter the full season? Luckily, the answer is yes! The permanent teams are the following:
Team Hansen MJP - Peugeot 208
Timmy Hansen (SWE), Average 61 events: 18.31 | 5 wins
Kevin Hansen (SWE), Average 30 events: 11.40 | 11 finals
GRX Taneco - Hyundai i20
Niclas Grönholm (FIN), Average 36 events: 6.33 | 5 finals
Timur Timerzyanov (RUS), Average 61 events: 9.02 | 2 podiums
Reinis Nitiss* (LVA), Average 47 events: 10.72 | 1 win
Monster Energy RX Cartel - Audi S1
Andreas Bakkerud (NOR), Average 61 events: 17.92 | 6 wins
Liam Doran (GBR), Average 28 events: 4.36 | 2 finals
Team STARD - Ford Fiesta
Janis Baumanis (LVA), Average 39 events: 8.28 | 5 finals
Pål Try* (NOR) Average 0 events: 0.00 | Debutant
GC Kompetition - Renault Megane RS
Guerlain Chicherit (FRA), Average 23 events: 3.22 | 1 final
Anton Marklund (SWE), Average 42 events: 8.93 | 1 podium
GCK Academy - Renault Clio RS
Guillaume De Ridder (BEL), Average 0 events: 0.00 | Debutant
Cyril Raymond (FRA), Average 2 events: 0.00 | Stepping up
All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport - Seat Ibiza
Timo Scheider (DEU), Average 19 events: 7.79 | 1 podium
Rene Münnich* (DEU) Average 36 events: 0.61 | 2 semifinals
EKS Sport - Audi S1
Krisztian Szabo (HUN), Average 0 events: 0.00 | Debutant
ESMotorsport - Skoda Fabia
Rokas Baciuska (LTU), Average 0 events: 0.00 | Debutant
Oliver Bennett - Mini Cooper
Oliver Bennett (GBR), Average 10 events: 0.70 | 15th best finish
*Selected rounds only
The cool thing abouth this year is that we’ll be crowning a new champion! Favourites to take the title are the Hansen brothers, who are back in a fully family run team. The Hansen team has been involved in rallycross since the late 80's, and will run the early 2018 spec Peugeots. The other clear candidate for the title is Andreas Bakkerud, who together with Liam Doran somehow has found enough support to run a couple of EKS Audi S1's.
The main challengers to the favourites are found in the GRX Taneco team, who was the best privateers last year. GC Kompetition has a lot of potential in their cars, and it will be interesting to see if their drivers can step it up to the highest level. Timo Scheider is in the opposite position, as the Münnich Seat Ibiza hasn’t always been on par with the others. Interesting rookies in RX2 graduates Guillaume de Ridder and Cyril Raymond form the GCK Academy team in the Renault Clios used in EuroRX last year. Same goes for Krisztian Szabo and Rokas Baciuska, both top drivers in S1600.
Yas Marina Circuit Preview
This new round is another part of WorldRX expanding into new territories utilizing Formula 1 tracks. These tracks have varied a lot in terms of exciting racing, with Turkey in 2014 and 2015 as a high note and COTA last year as an absolute low. Because of the criticism last year the promoter hired Kenneth Hansen as a consultant for the new tracks. With 14 European titles in his career as a driver, he should know a thing or two about rallycross tracks.
And sure, the track layout looks promising! There’s a bit less gravel than usual though, but I can already see the complicated joker causing some problems.
The entry list is also strong enough with Pål Try and Reinis Nitiss joining the permanent entries. There are of course no previous results or stats available from this tracks, and everyone start from scratch at the first event of the season. If you want to do more research, the stats are also available if you want to do more research. Everything can be watched on Youtube on Friday and Saturday (might be geoblocked).
With that, it is all up to you. The drivers available to pick are listed below, time to start the season!
TEAM STARD - FORD FIESTA
#5 Pål Try (NOR), Avg last 0: 0.00
#6 Janis Baumanis (LVA), Avg last 10: 7.60
GRX TANECO - HYUNDAI I20
#7 Timur Timerzyanov (RUS), Avg last 10: 6.90
#15 Reinis Nitiss (LVA), Avg last 10: 5.70
#68 Niclas Grönholm (FIN, Avg last 10: 11.80
MONSTER ENERGY RX CARTEL - AUDI S1
#13 Andreas Bakkerud (NOR), Avg last 10: 19.30
#33 Liam Doran (GBR), Avg last 10: 4.50
TEAM HANSEN MJP - PEUGEOT 208
#21 Timmy Hansen (SWE), Avg last 10: 19.10
#71 Kevin Hansen (SWE) Avg last 10: 14.40
GC KOMPETITION - RENAULT MEGANE RS
#36 Guerlain Chicherit (FRA), Avg last 10: 5.30
#92 Anton Marklund (SWE), Avg last 10: 5.20
GCK ACADEMY - RENAULT CLIO RS
#96 Guillaume De Ridder (BEL), Avg last 0: 0.00
#113 Cyril Raymond (FRA), Avg last 2: 0.00
SINGLE CAR TEAMS AND INDEPENDENTS
#14 Rokas Baciuska (LTU), Skoda Fabia, Avg last 0: 0.00
#42 Oliver Bennett (GBR), Mini Cooper, Avg last 10: 0.70
#44 Timo Scheider (DEU), Seat Ibiza, Avg last 10: 6.40
#123 Krisztian Szabo (HUN), Audi S1, Avg last 0: 0.00