JULY 7, 2009
Vatanen to stand against Mosley?
We have hear whispers in recent days suggesting that former World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen is considering standing against Max Mosley in the FIA election in October. Vatanen is rumoured to have the support of the American Automobile Association (AAA) and probably has support from the biggest European club as well, Germany's ADAC. These clubs came out against Mosley a year ago during his sex scandal but were defeated by an alliance of small clubs from Africa and the Middle East that gathered around Mosley to protect him. This was led by the UAE's Mohammad bin Sulayem.
Vatanan, who is 57, reckons that "I think the time has come for a change" and says that he would "go for it, even if not sure of winning."
The Finn has spent the recent years as a member of the European Parliament, but lost his seat last month.
Vatanen is very well connected in motorsport circles. He rallied professionally from 1970n onwards and won the British Rally Championship in 1976, when he teamed up with David Richards. He joined the Rothmans Rally Team in 1979 and won the title in 1981 for the Ford Motor Company. In 1984 he joined Jean Todt's Peugeot rally team and became a regular winner again before a major accident in Argentina left him with serious injuries and depression. He recovered and returned to the sport in 1987 and went on to win the Paris-Dakar Rally four times. In 1993 he settled in France and developed an interest in politics and in 1999 was elected to the European Parliament as a member of the conservative Finnish National Coalition party. He was later re-elected as a member of French UMP. He has competed on and off in recent years on the Dakar Rally.
It is interesting to note that Vatanen was very close to Todt in his Peugeot days and one of his Dakar wins came as a result of team orders. The event still had six days to run but Jacky Ickx and Vatanen were locked in combat to gain the upper hand. This became so intense that Vatanen rolled his car. Worried that the rivalry would result in failure for the team Todt tossed a coin and declared that Vatanen would be the winner.