Ari Vatanen's bid to replace Max Mosley as the president of the FIA, the sports governing body, has been given a lift after a number of FIA member clubs confirmed their support for the 1981 World Rally champion.
Vatanen is up against former Ferrari F1 team boss Jean Todt for the honour of being voted into the most influential post in international motor racing, one that has been held for the past 16 years by the outgoing Max Mosley.
A joint statement from several of the FIA member clubs today, including those in Australia, Germany, Finland, Ireland and Canada, amongst others, noted that Vatanen is the 'ideal candidate for all who want to create a future in the spirit of fair collaboration'.
Indeed the clubs added that his 'entirely neutral approach' and 'the fact that he is highly respected and esteemed makes him a worthy candidate who deserves to be supported'.
The full statement from the FIA member clubs read:
Dear Fellow Clubs / Dear Friends
The upcoming election of the FIA President is about change. It is about recreating our magnificent sport and the forms of mobility we all believe in. It is an opportunity to open a new era of transparency, dialogue and collaboration.
Openness to criticism and willingness to lead with respect for conflicting perspectives is intrinsic to democracy. Even more, democracy is about change - about the right to choose one's future, as opposed to staying in the iron cage of the past.”
As FIA member clubs, we wish to let you know our view of the Ari Vatanen candidacy.
We firmly believe that FIA needs a spokesman who has a willingness and ability to address with respect and enthusiasm all the various stake holders of mobility and sport. The unique background of Ari Vatanen includes his years in the European Parliament, to which he was elected from two countries (Finland and France).
During his dramatic and successful, humanly touching career in rallying he became a World champion. As a spokesman for the federation in the present day world, where media attention and diplomacy with various stake holders is becoming more and more vital, Ari comes across as an ideal candidate for all who want to create a future in the spirit of fair collaboration.
Ari Vatanen is an excellent choice in view of his political background. In the European Parliament he became known as an active defender of mobility in all its forms. So he is not only an extremely successful motor sportsman. He also has experience as a member of the Board of Trustees of the FIA Foundation. In our view, he is the right person, because his election campaign focuses on changes in the FIA for the benefit of all clubs, as well as on leading the FIA into the future as a large federation of so many mobility and motor sport clubs.