It’s that time of year again! Rallye Monte Carlo is just under a week away, and if last year is anything to go by this’ll be a hell of a season.

2017 was expected to be the best season in years and it didn’t disappoint. Four drivers from the four manufacturers won the first four events, and by the end of the season we’d seen seven different drivers stand on the top step, four drivers score multiple wins, and a three-way fight for the driver’s title that went down to the penultimate round. While Sebastien Ogier won his fifth straight title, it was never a sure thing, and the title was ultimately won on strategy and consistency instead of outright pace, as Thierry Neuville won twice as many rallies, but also had four times as many finishes outside the top 10. This year is set to build on that excitement, with Ford returning to back M-Sport and a few interesting driver changes. Add in all stages being streamed live online from start to finish and this is a hell of a year.

2017 WINNERS

Before we go any further, I want to announce the winners of the 2017 season prizes. I should have done this sooner, but work got absolutely STOOPID right around the time the season ended, and we’re still playing catch up, so I simply hadn’t had the time.

The season title went to Marric, our first repeat winner. Like Ogier consistency was the key for his victory. Marric never won a round all season, but with four podiums and six top 10 results in his nine non-dropped rounds, he was able to fend off all the other challengers.

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The best single round score goes to jebidia24. Jebidia finished second in the season championship, and like the season battle the battle for the best single score was an extremely close one. Jebidia tied with TurboThomi for highest round score at 84 points. Their second highest scores were also identical at 69. It took going to the third highest scores to find a winner, where Jeb beat Thomi by just two points (67-65).

Congratulations to our two winners. If you are Marric or Jeb please email me at howdeedoodat@gmail.com

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RULES

Last year’s rules worked extremely well, producing a close fantasy title fight that went down to the last round, with the margin of victory being just 10 points and the entire top 10 being covered by less than 50 points. So, as they say, if it ain’t broke...

  • For each round you are to pick five drivers, ranked in the order you expect them to finish. This year you may pick up to two factory drivers from each manufacturer team. The factory drivers are as follows: HYUNDAI - Neuville, Mikkelsen, Paddon, Sordo. CITROEN - Meeke, Loeb, Breen M-SPORT - Ogier, Evans, Suninen, Bouffier. TOYOTA - Latvala, Tanak, Lappi. All other drivers will be considered independents. 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 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. 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(ish) have the stats updated by Thursday at the latest.

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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 nine 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.

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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 five drivers. 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 five 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 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 so far this year, I intend to get more during the season.

2018 World Rally Championship Calendar:

1. January 25-28: Rallye Monte Carlo
2. February 15-18: Rally Sweden
3. March 8-11: Rally Mexico
4. April 5-8: Tour de Corse (France)
5. April 26-29: Rally Argentina
6. May 17-20: Rally de Portugal
7. June 7-10: Rally d’Italia Sardegna
8. July 26-29: Rally Finland
9. August 16-19: Rallye Deutschland (Germany)
10. September 13-16: Rally Turkey
11. October 4-7: Wales Rally GB
12. October 25-28: Rally Catalunya (Spain)
13. November 15-18: Rally Australia

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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: M-Sport is clearly the only team that knows how to do preseason release photos properly