Six questions with… Yves Matton

FIA's rally director is the first guest for a new feature series

Yves Matton

Here at DirtFish, we’re keen to bring you the thoughts of as many rallying figures as we can during these unprecedented times – including through this new feature series.

It’s a simple premise: the same set of six questions, all asked to personalities throughout the rallying community – including members of the DirtFish family.

We kick things off by speaking to FIA rally director Yves Matton.

What’s your best rally memory and why?

It’s Rally France 2012. It was the last title of Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena. The first year I was team principal at Citroen, and Loeb’s last year fully involved in the World Rally Championship. The atmosphere was quite special, with a huge number of fans there for this title. I have to say it was really a great memory for me and all the team.

If you could make one change in rallying, what would it be and why?

It’s quite difficult to say one change like that. I would say that maybe it’s the thing that I don’t have an answer [for]. Maybe the thing I would wish to change is the starting order, but nobody is able at the moment to try to find the good solution. And I would say that I think the solution we have for the moment is the best that we were able to find. It’s only that it’s still a subject raised by drivers and fans. It’s a subject that makes some negative comments on the rally. It would be nice to be able to find a solution, but at the moment there is not one.

If you could choose one era to live in our sport, which one would it be and why?

Without any doubt, the current one. Because we have great battles, like we have never had in the past. Close battles on the events, close battles in the championship, with a higher level of competition between very talented drivers. For sure, I have to say that what we have achieved with the cars that we have now and the level of driving of the championship is quite incredible.

How is rallying helping you through lockdown right now?

I have to say that rallying is helping me because we are still working. We are working at home. And during this difficult time it allows us to still to continue to work on what we love. With rallying we are trying to find any solution for the future. But, in one way we are working for the moment, but it’s not the most important thing. The most important is the people who are working to help all the people who are fighting for the moment against these health problems, and who are maintaining the world going on for the moment. That’s the most important.

But at least it [rallying] has helped me to not be at home and not to be able to do nothing during this crisis.

Which rally are you looking forward to the most once we’re through this, and why?

I cannot say which rally it will be, but it’s the first rally which we will be able to do once we’re able to come out of lockdown. I think it will be a new era after COVID-19, for sure, and we will all work together to try to bring back the World Rally Championship at the highest level and try to [make it] maybe stronger than in the past. For sure it will bring some positive messages that sport can happen again in the world, and this is also why I am waiting for this first rally. For the moment I don’t know which one it will be.

You can have a conversation with one person from the history of rallying. Who would it be, and what would you talk about?

I would say that I was lucky enough to maybe meet all the stars that I was looking at on the television and in the books in the past, due to my career. The only one maybe that I was not able to meet, and I would be interested, is Cesare Fiorio. Why? Because in this time he was dominating rallying with Lancia, and then with Fiat. It was quite different from now, there was less rules. I have to say what was going in their imagination at this time, they were able to put it in application and trying things. They did things like changing tyres in the stages in Monte Carlo, like sending the cars in front of the cars during the night to clean the gravel roads and things like that that now seems completely crazy, but at this time it was really quite incredible to be able to think and imagine it, and then doing it. For sure, I think he would have a lot of stories from this era that he could tell me. For someone like me who is really passionate about rally, I think it could be a great chat with him.