FIA President Jean Todt visits Cyprus

FIA President Jean Todt visits Cyprus

31.10.2012: Jean Todt, President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) - the governing body for

Jean Todt, President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) - the governing body for world motorsport, was in Cyprus this week for a short visit.

Mr Todt arrived on Sunday and on Monday held a series of meetings, after which he left for Cairo, continuing a Middle East tour which will end in Abu Dhabi with next Sunday’s Formula 1 GP.

After meeting with senior members of the Cyprus Automobile Association (CAA) and Cyprus Olympic Committee (COC) Chairman Ouranios Ioannides on Monday, Mr Todt took part in a press conference at the COC headquarters in Nicosia.

Opening the conference, CAA President Antonis Michaelides welcomed Mr Todt to the island, saying that motoring is “very much part of Cypriot DNA” and drawing attention to the island’s successful history of motorsport.

Mr Michaelides spoke of the high esteem with which the “acclaimed” Cyprus Rally is held internationally and underlined the CAA’s important role in developing motorsport on the island and in matters of road safety. He spoke of the CAA’s ongoing involvement in making the roads of Cyprus safer for everyone and of the Association’s involvement in the government’s campaign for road safety that begins next month.

Mr Todt said that he was happy to be in Cyprus once again, having visited the island very briefly three years ago. Originally a rally co-driver himself, Mr Todt was very complimentary regarding the island’s motorsport heritage stating that: “Cyprus is a little country with less than a million people, but it has a great tradition for rallying and for me Cyprus always had a high image and a strong background, so I am very proud of what Cyprus is doing and I am very sorry that I will not be able to attend the Cyprus Rally here next weekend.”

On the subject of local motorsport, Mr Todt praised developments around karting in Cyprus and the talents of Cypriot drivers, particularly the success of GP3 driver Eftychios (Tio) Ellinas. When asked about the future of the Cyprus Rally within the WRC, Mr Todt confirmed that this was something that had been discussed in his morning meeting with the CAA.

He went on to say that that the structure of future WRC calendars will be reviewed over the next five years to ensure a more global scale and expressed his confidence that Cyprus “… will be able to have a good position”.

Mr Todt was keen to stress the importance of road safety, which he admitted is “… a very big problem.” “We cannot accept to have 1.3 million people killed on the roads every year. 50 million people injured every year. In a country like your’s you have more than 70 people dying on the roads – you have 1,500 injured.

I must congratulate you for what you have achieved in recent years, on enforcing stricter rules on drink driving, on speeding, on making the use of seatbelts and helmets compulsory… but still there are too many fatalities in your country. So I hope that my visit will be an opportunity to bring greater attention [to the issue].”

Mr Todt went on to say that in his meeting with Mr Ioannides, he asked for Cypriot champions from all sports and walks of life to be involved in addressing the issue of road safety.

Taking questions from the media, Mr Todt gave answers about a number of issues, including the measures being taken towards ‘greener’ motorsport in the years to come. Asked about the possibility of a major motorsport event such as F1 being part of the Olympic Games in the future, Mr. Todt responded:

‘Motorsport does not plan to be in the IOC calendar. I feel it [would be] a very interesting step to have the FIA joining the Olympic family because we have the same values and there are many things we share in our agendas … but there is no plan or intention to have one of our categories being hosted during the Olympic Games.”

When asked which aspect of his long and varied career had given him the most pleasure, Mr Todt replied: “I enjoyed each and every part of my career. Each part had moments, you know. Of course, when I was asked to become head of Scuderia Ferrari… well… if you love motorsport then that’s the ultimate goal you can achieve… particularly for Ferrari when it is a very weak position.

 But we managed to build a great team with some amazing success. Then I became the CEO of Ferrari. After this chapter, I wanted another challenge and I felt that in this period of my life it was time to return all that I had got out of motorsport, and that’s why I decided to run for election as the President of the FIA.”

World motorsport returns to Cyprus this weekend with the Cyprus Rally. Set to run from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th November, the event will serve as both the season closer of the 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), and the penultimate round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship. For further information, visit

Chris Christodoulou –  photo Maggy Parries


31.10.2012 / MaP

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