David Ward has officially resigned his existing post within the FIA Foundation in order to stand against Jean Todt in the governing body's presidential election.
Ward, an ally of former president Max Mosley, has filled the role of director general to the Foundation over the past twelve years, but confirmed that he is stand down to run against Todt in the forthcoming election for the most powerful position in motorsport. The 56-year old's candidacy has been rumoured for some months, but this is the first clear signal that Todt faces opposition after a term in office that has not found much favour.
The Frenchman beat out Ari Vatanen for the right to succeed Mosley in 2009 but always insisted that he would serve just one term before moving on. With no obvious rival for the post prior to Ward's announcement, however, it appeared that he may be prepared to carry on.
“After much careful thought, I have decided to stand as a candidate in the 2013 FIA Presidential election,” Ward confirmed in a statement on the FIA Foundation website, “The election period begins in September and it will be necessary for me to approach FIA members to secure nominations. In these circumstances, I think that the correct course of action is to resign [my current post]. Election processes inevitably involve robust and lively debate and, whilst the Foundation is independent and there is no legal requirement for me to resign, I believe that it is in the best interests of the charity that I stand down now.”
Anyone wishing to stand in the presidential elections needs to submit the candidacy between October 23 and November 13, and a continuation of Ward's Foundation involvement in recent years would have made it tough for him to campaign effectively.
“It has been a great privilege and words cannot express my gratitude to the trustees and staff for the support and loyalty I have been given since the Foundation was established in 2001,” he continued, “The Foundation has given me an extraordinary opportunity for professional fulfilment, building up the charity, creating a dedicated team, developing innovative activities that have reshaped the international agenda's approach to road safety and the environment. Very important to me has been the UN's launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety, the Moscow Ministerial in 2009, and the global campaign that helped to bring them about. Also very gratifying has been the creation of the Global New Car Assessment Programme and its pioneering work with emerging consumer crash test programmes in Latin America and Asia. The Foundation's environmental work has been similarly successful, assisting in the UN Environment Programme's drive to complete the removal of lead in fuel, and the launch of the Global Fuel Economy Initiative. As a former amateur competitor, I am also pleased that the Foundation has been able to contribute significantly to the promotion of motor sport safety through research funding and grants for training programmes managed by the FIA Institute.
“The Foundation, and especially its superb staff, has been a wonderful organisation to lead and, naturally, that makes it very hard to leave. Nevertheless, I am sure now is the time for me to move on not least because the trustees and staff are more than capable of sustaining the Foundation's important work. I will, of course, also continue to strongly support the Foundation's objects through my role as secretary general of the Global NCAP and as executive secretary to Lord Robertson's Commission for Global Road Safety and the Make Roads Safe campaign.”
Ward's deputy, Saul Billingsley, has been appointed as acting director general pending recruitment of a permanent successor.
“David has led the FIA Foundation with distinction, flair and great strategic skill,” FIA Foundation chairman Tim Keown noted, “His achievements have been outstanding: in establishing the global reputation of the Foundation; identifying and funding innovative road safety and environmental programmes; supporting a diverse, and life-saving, research programme in motor sport safety; working with major international partners on sustainable transport issues; and above all transforming global public policy on road safety.
“On behalf of the FIA Foundation's trustees, I would like to place on record our sincere and heartfelt thanks for his twelve years of tremendous and tireless service to the FIA Foundation. I now look forward to working with Saul Billingsley to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.”
It now remains to be seen whether Todt will indeed opt to campaign for a second term as president or, with a potential successor identified, return to his original plan of stepping down.