Friday morning is as good a morning as any to make some history. Just ask Scott Martin.
This morning, the Englishman became the first full-time World Rally Championship competitor to take an active role in a WRC Commission meeting (even if he was just observing for now). That might not sound like the sort of history that makes headlines. But it should.
Earlier this week, DirtFish reported the desire from the FIA and WRC Promoter to have a competitor’s voice in the future-shaping meetings. Martin’s name was the one that came forward. He was asked. He accepted.
That was yesterday. Today, the first meeting.
“It is a little bit in at the deep end,” smiled the man whose day job is to co-drive Elfyn Evans in a Toyota GR Yaris Rally1.
“I think it’s quite a big thing to be asked and it’s definitely quite something to be the first competitor in this position. I’m looking forward to it.
“It’s no secret that there’s been a fair bit of chatter going on between the drivers and co-drivers and I think it’s no secret to say we’ve felt underrepresented. Yes, we’ve had a voice, but we’ve sometimes had to make that voice heard through our teams or through the media.
“To have our voice is really important and one thing I’d like to do from the start is thank the FIA and the WRC Promoter for giving us competitors this opportunity to help shape the future.”
No co-driver in a factory Rally1 car has as much experience as Martin does. His WRC debut came 19 years ago alongside Matthew Wilson – again in at the deep end as he guided his fellow Cumbrian to a Rally GB 13th in a Ford Focus RS WRC.
Since then, he’s started another 171 world rallies. He’s pretty much seen it all.
“That’s true,” he told DirtFish. “I’ve been fortunate enough to sit in the best seat in the house for quite a while now and I can tell you one thing for sure: the sport of rallying is just as awesome as it’s ever been.
“We’re all aware that there are some issues we have to work on, but looking around the room in the first meeting we had, I couldn’t fail to be optimistic about the future.
“There are a lot people from the FIA and from the promoter who are working tirelessly to make change. To have a seat at the table representing drivers and co-drivers in the WRC is a responsibility I take very seriously. It’s also a real honor.”
Martin admitted he would be feeling his way in – even though he’s already has an insight into the inner workings of world motorsport’s governing body.
He added: “For more than a year now I’ve been working on the FIA’s Closed Road Commission and that’s given me a real insight into the decision and policy-making process. That’s something that’s going to stand me in good stead in this new role.”
But what’s his insight? What’s his first big point to the WRC Commission?
“Do you know one of the coolest things?” asked Martin. “It’s the ideas and the fresh thinking coming in from the younger guys like Martijn [Wydaeghe], Aaron [Johnston] and Kalle [Rovanperä]. These guys are the sport’s future and the young following they have is key to engaging the next generation.
“I’m working alongside these guys for so much of the time – it’s good for them to know that we’re getting a more direct line into the decision-making process. Before it came out of the meeting to the teams, from the teams to the crews back to the teams and then back into the next meeting. Now, we’re direct into the meeting. That’s good.
“It’s important to say, though, that this isn’t a Toyota thing or a Scott Martin thing, it’s a WRC competitor thing.
“Like I said, I’m optimistic. We have this incredible sport which goes to these awesome places, stunning landscapes and we bring some insane drama. We shouldn’t lose sight of that, but it’s vital that we’re always looking forwards and striving to improve.”