FIA defends WRC return timing after Ogier’s criticism

Ogier and Mäkinen wanted an earlier return for rallying, but the FIA's Matton is confident the right call was made


FIA rally director Yves Matton has defended the governing body’s stance on the World Rally Championship’s return to competition following criticism from Sébastien Ogier and Tommi Mäkinen.

Both Toyota’s world champions wanted to be back in competition sooner, with them fearful that the season could still be lost to a potential second wave of the coronavirus.

Ogier said: “It’s sad to see that we were more or less the last one to restart and we didn’t use the fact that the situation was actually quite OK and under control this summer.”

One of the primary issues facing rallying’s return has been containing the demand from fans. Matton said this had to be considered before the series’ return.

“Maybe we could have won one or two weeks and come back, maybe we could have managed to go to Latvia [for Rally Liepāja, August 14-16] but before that it was not possible,” Matton told DirtFish.

“When we had to take the decision in June, we knew that, in the majority of places, the public will open again until the end of August. That was the trend in June.

“We took the decision to say that we will not come back until, in the majority of countries, the public will be allowed to go to the events.

“We knew, in the middle of August, some events would be still closed with no public events and things like that. That’s why we said we would start in very early September.

“If I can say rallying is going outside the track (circuit) and this would give us more chance to have public on events. It was to maximise the fact that we do not have to cancel events.”

Currently, the WRC is set for three further outings – in Turkey next week, Sardinia next month, and an all-new Belgian finale at the Ypres Rally in November.