Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1242, (16-22 April 2015)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1242, (16-22 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Car inspection

While visiting Egypt Jean Todt speaks to Mohamed Abdel-Razek about the future of motor sports in the country

Al-Ahram Weekly

President of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Jean Todt visited Egypt for the second time in three years to double-check on the status of motor sports in the country.

Invited by the Automobile and Touring Club of Egypt (ATCE), Todt visited Egypt from 8 to 10 April to inspect motorsports in the country, which means a lot to him, as he consistently says. A press conference was held for Todt to meet the motorsports community and hear from them about the changes and updates since his last visit to the country.

The ATCE has been the solo FIA certified body in the country since 1924. The club has been responsible for driving Egyptian motorsports since the time of the king, starting with the unforgettable Formula One Gezira Grand Prix in 1947, to the annual Pharaons Rally across the country which has been starting from the Great Pyramids since 1998.  

Because the club’s president Adel Abdel-Baki and his board have always made sure to be part of the FIA, they accordingly have drawn up their plans while coordinating with the FIA, making sure their efforts and strategies are monitored by the superior body.    

When Todt visited Egypt in 2012, FIA training was offered to racers, co-drivers, and marshals, all meant to help them raise the sport to international levels. “We received a lot of training from the FIA in Egypt and abroad on risk management and how to run races properly and safely,” said Ahmed Badr, motor sport department member at the ATCE. This is how the FIA has been working under Todt’s leadership since 2009, which is developing motorsports from the ground up, prioritising investing in human resources to form a professional structure firm enough to build on for the future.

Todt listened to various members of the Egyptian motorsport community about the developments in the field for the past two years. “We are working on forming new competitions besides the cross country rally we already have, with the support of Mr Todt and rally champion Nasser Al-Attia,” said Hakam Rabie, Egyptian co-driver rally champion.

According to ATCE general manager Mohamed Haridi, new rally races are being planned for the next few months, starting with the Baja cross rally in May which will start from the Western Desert in the city of Al-Alamein and ending by the Pyramids. “Egypt will also host one round of the 2015 Middle East Rally Championship next September, in addition to the return of the Egyptian Drifting Championship ,” Haridi added.

Al-Ahram Weekly held an exclusive interview with Todt, asking him what Egyptian motorsports needs to reach the international levels like Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. After just a few seconds, Todt said he believed that in the past couple of years Egypt had other priorities other than developing motorsports. He said he respected the enthusiasm of the club’s board members despite the obstacles they face. “Egypt has got different opportunities like rallying, karting and drifting” that he saw as great potential for the future.

On hosting a Formula One race in Egypt, Todt answered diplomatically. “Racing is not only F1, and the priority is to develop motorsports from the grassroots, and to educate and encourage young drivers to race properly.”

Some might interpret Todt’s comments to mean that sometimes it is hard to predict the future when you have nothing in hand, or that because he is a French gentleman, he likes to send his messages gently. After all, getting such an answer from the FIA head, and former motorsport director of Peugeot Citroen and ex-motorsport supremo for Scuderia Ferrari and Maserati group, is something to worry about. All we know is Egypt will not host Formula One anytime soon.

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