What convinced the FIA to add Monza to the WRC

FIA rally director Yves Matton wasn't keen on initial proposal, but addition of 'proper stages' helped sway argument

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Monza. It was the story that just wouldn’t go away. Talking to FIA rally director Yves Matton not long after we returned from lockdown, there was a chance to put it to bed once and for all.

Asking about the potential for more new rallies beyond Estonia and Ypres, Matton talked about Croatia. Not Monza. For the FIA, Monza wasn’t possible.

What changed?

Matton told DirtFish: “First, I think it’s important to try to have as many rounds as we were able to have for the championship, to help give the value to the championship. A few months ago we had this proposal from Monza to have an event only on the racetrack, to have Monza Rally Show, if you can say.

“I can tell you that I was, and not only me, but also the management of the FIA, we were not in favor of this.

The Italians went away, had a bit of a rethink and came back with something more appealing. And, apparently, with less straw bales.

“We know that we have these mixed events [part circuit, part asphalt stages] and since the beginning, I am pushing to say a mixed event could be something new and something interesting,” Matton said.

“We have proper stages from a proper rally mixed with an event on the racetrack will be something new, and, since always I say: it’s the year 2020 to try things that maybe will work and we will be able to use it again in the future for different countries.

“The rally is to showcase proper stages on the track as much as possible, but not to be as chicane or straw bales like Monza Rally Show was in the past.”

For the December 4-6 event to stand a chance, Saturday’s day outside the circuit and up around some of the beautiful roads in the Como area was crucial.

Now we have to wait to see which way the pandemic progresses.

While there are obvious deadlines for both Monza Rally and the next event in Ypres, Matton pointed out that – as with all major sporting events – the rallies are in the hands of the national and regional governments.

“There’s no deadline [from the FIA],” he confirmed.

“We know that in this situation, unfortunately it can happen [cancellation] a few days before an event. All I can say is that we try with the organizers and different stakeholders to help and to fight to have the events. But we can’t avoid to have a government to take a decision [to cancel] a few days before the event.”

Photos:Hyundai Motorsport

Words:David Evans