FIA rally director Yves Matton reckons the World Rally Championship will exit the COVID-19 crisis as a stronger and more collaborative series.
Matton is meeting series stakeholders on a regular basis and admits that his department has never worked harder than trying to find a solution to coronavirus. The next three rounds of the WRC have been postponed, with the Safari Rally expected ti announce its postponement in the coming days.
Matton also wanted to pay tribute to those working against the coronavirus: “We have seen some incredible people doing incredible jobs, especially the health workers,” the Frenchman said.
More specifically about the WRC, he added: “We know this crisis will have a big impact in motorsport in general and on the WRC. But the feeling I have, and what we really want with the FIA, is to try to be stronger after this crisis than before. All I can tell you is that the discussions with stakeholders are more open-minded than in the past. Nothing is taboo and nobody is taking offence when you put some ideas on the table that, just a few weeks ago, were not well-received.
“Bringing the stakeholders together to find a more sustainable future for the WRC is so important and it gives me confidence to see everybody working more closely right now; it’s very nice to see the thinking is more about the championship and not each person’s own interest. For us it’s important to keep all of the players. We have to find a solution to have them all on-board in 2021 and keep them alive in 2020. This is the reason to take the right decisions and not the quick decisions. Everybody expects something and everybody wants information. But it’s not a reason to rush in and maybe influence badly the future.”
Matton warned the rally community not to take the absence of news as a lack of work towards solving which rally goes where. But he underlined his determination to plan the WRC’s future.
“We are not just sitting and waiting for when the day comes and lockdown ends,” added Matton. “For sure we are having to work harder than we have done in the past due to this situation. But we are working to make the right decisions.”
Matton said his confidence in the future was bolstered by the commitment shown from the series stakeholders, explaining: “The main thing is that manufacturers and organisers are motivated to start as early as possible and are all committed to be part of the WRC. But everything is linked to government decision and each week we have new information from the government.
“Some countries are opening again or reducing the lockdown, but still it’s difficult to know the constraints, which borders will be closed. One thing which is very important – and we are maybe in a different position to Formula 1 – the manufacturers in the WRC all strongly give us the message they want to continue to be involved in 2022. Maybe we will have to change some things, but they all tell me they want to commit to 2022 and that’s the most important for the future.”