It's time for another round of Oppo's favourite game: Fantasy WRC. The rally circus is stopping in beautiful Sardinia, Italy for the sixth round of the championship. Tight, dusty roads with rocks on the side promise a dramatic event. Time to pick your drivers!
Everyone was sure that VW would be the force to beat in WRC since they presented their Rally program back in 2012 (in Sardinia, actually), but only a few could have predicted such utter dominance. The Germans even out-dominated Citroen in their best Loeb years.
So the first 3 drivers in the overall standings are Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen, in this very order, but what's shaping up to be interesting is the battle for the championship between the two team leaders. Latvala always was fast, but also really liked his hobby of picking random stones to crash a rally car against. This year he concentrated a bit more on actual winning and so far racked up two overall victories against Ogier's three. The gap is 24 points, so everything is still to be won and lost.
What leaves this the rest of the field with? Their hope must be to win a single event despite the championship clearly and expectedly being gone.
Ford's spearhead Mikko Hirvonen is in a rising form and will be one driver to watch for a podium. His younger and less experienced teammates Kubica and Evans will be looking for a solid, save finish (well, Evans will).
Citroen has been recovering from the loss of Sebastien Loeb and the loss of his two successors they majorly introduced to WRC, Ogier and Neuville. Mads Östberg and Kris Meeke mark a new era, and have been pretty good so far, scoring podiums despite partial lack of experience. With both drivers familiar with Sardinian roads, the overall pace should improve und put them closer to VW, hopefully. Oh, and Al-Quassimi returns in a third DS3 WRC.
Then there's Hyundai. They are the newcomers, but their form has been rather well considering it's their first year with a whole new motorsports program, built from the ground up. Only reliability was lacking, something essential in rallying. As usual, Thierry Neuville is driving a i20 WRC, this time with Juho Hänninen and highly talented, 2011 P-WRC champion Hayden Paddon in a third vehicle.
3 other Ford Fiesta WRCs are entered by privateers Martin Prokop, Henning Solberg and Jaroslav Melicharek. You can find the full entry list, including WRC2, here.
Speaking of WRC2, as usual it is visited by various privateers in different cars, from Ford, Subaru, Mitsubishi or Fiat. The two new R5 spec PSA twins, the Peugeot 208 T16 and DS3 R5, also make their WRC debut. Remember, you also can pick a car from the lower class if you feel like gambling.
•Sebastien Ogier - Avg points last 10 races: 20.1
•Jari-Matti Latvala - Avg points last 10 races: 14.7
CITROEN TOTAL ABU DHABI WRT
•Kris Meeke - Avg points last 10 races: 5.3
•Mads Østberg - Avg points last 10 races: 8.0
•Mikko Hirvonen - Avg points last 10 races: 8.9
•Elfyn Evans - Avg points last 4 races: 5.7
•Thierry Neuville - Avg points last 10 races: 10.6
•Juho Hänninen - Avg points last 10 races: 2.0
SINGLE CAR TEAMS AND INDEPENDENTS
•Andreas Mikkelsen (VW) - Avg points last 10 races: 7.3
•Robert Kubica (FORD) - Avg points last 4 races: 1.3
•Hayden Paddon (HYUNDAI) - Avg points last 10 races: NA
•Khalid Al Qassimi (CITROEN) - Avg points last 10 races: 0.5
•Martin Prokop (FORD) - Avg points last 10 races: 4.8
•Henning Solberg (FORD) - Avg points last 10 races: 5.9
•Jaroslav Melicharek (FORD) - Avg points last 10 races: 4.0
As you might have noticed, Dusty is not available because he himself is at a rally event, so he asked me to run this round of Fantasy WRC. I wasn't able to find the average points for Rally Italy, sorry for that – if anyone knows where to find the stats, leave a comment.