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Q&A: Vladimir Antonov, CSI chairman

CSI chairman Vladimir Antonov discusses his companies' acquisition of North One Sport, the promoter of the World Rally Championship.

Q:
How much involvement will you have in the day-to-day running of the WRC business?

Vladimir Antonov:
On a day-to-day basis probably very little. One of the reasons for acquiring North One Sport was the very good team of people already working there and I see no reason to change a successful formula. Of course CSI, as the umbrella brand for all our properties, has some core principles which are integral to every business in the group, but at the same time each of them is independent. My role as chairman of Convers Sports is to get involved in the strategic direction for the business and to back the strong, highly focused management teams within each subsidiary.

Q:
Why have you chosen to invest in the WRC?

Vladimir Antonov:
Our business is about acquiring strategic stakes in sports, media and entertainment businesses which have either unique sports based entertainment formats or intellectual property capable of further commercialisation. I firmly believe the WRC has the potential to be a far more successful sport in both media and commercial terms but it needs an injection of resource in order for it to take the next leap forward. We're in a position to do that. Also, as a business CSI is committed to growing its interests in motorsport and our new role in the WRC sends a clear message about the scale of our ambition. Finally from a personal perspective, I'm a big fan of rallying both as a competitor and a spectator so I have some extra motivation to help the sport reach the status I believe it deserves.

Q:
What changes would you like to see in the WRC?

Vladimir Antonov:
I'm in favour of changes that make the WRC more appealing and relevant to car manufacturers, more accessible and exciting for fans and that attract a wider viewing audience. At the same time, however, we need to remember that the WRC is first and foremost a global challenge for drivers and car manufacturers. It's vital that whatever changes we make to the WRC respect its heritage and the DNA that makes it a unique motor sport challenge. We'll work hard to strike the right balance between the past and the present, respecting the roots of the WRC but packaging it for the latest television, mobile and multimedia markets.

Q:
Would you like to see a Rally in Russia one day?

Vladimir Antonov:
Why not? We understand that the FIA is keen to expand the reach of the WRC to new territories. Russia is a significant market for car manufacturers and offers huge potential in terms of the numbers of fans.



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