1985: Political Problems
* The spring meetings took place between 28 February and 5 March. President Schmit informed that an additional period of time had been requested by the OPIT to provide its list of grievances to the arbitration commission. It would then be for the FIM to produce its defence. According to the report, the matter could still be settled that year – which was of course not the case.
* The secretary general announced that ARMCO had made a new request for associate membership, but with a different name: “Association of road race competitors” instead of the manufacturers’ association. According to Mr Youngblood, this association seemed to unite the teams but could be transformed into a kind of riders’ trades union, given the ambiguous nature of the word “competitor”. The council requested that the intentions and aims of this association should be clearly defined.
* A majority of the management council expressed their opposition to the signature of the FIM/FIVA agreement. Some national clubs were strongly opposed because they believed that the FIM should maintain authority over all aspects of motorcycling including “demonstrations of vintage bikes” (sic). In fact, relations were often poor or even non-existent between some national federations and vintage motorcycle clubs.
* The procedure for requesting the award of the “motorcycling merit” prize had to be reviewed. Proposals were made by the FMNs, but it was the FIM who determined alone the quality of the reward – gold, silver or bronze medal. The ULM request for the motorcycling merit award for Andrea Ippolito was refused, because it had been made after the 31 December deadline. The new project for statutes and internal regulations was not yet finished but it was already drawing criticism from some members.
* The request for zones to be established aimed at making it easier for riders to compete in events in neighbouring countries was massive and several council members believed this would help the sport to expand. In fact it appeared that the problem was more of a financial nature – tariffs between international events and zone events had to be harmonised in order for the national events not to suffer.
* The Soviet federation’s request to exclude South Africa arose again. Pressure was mounting and certain governments such as Sweden and the Netherlands, were forbidding South African sportsmen from competing in events in their country as well as their own sportsmen competing in South Africa.
* Problems concerning the insurance against medical costs, death and invalidity were continuing. The minimum agreed during the Malta congress was not compulsory. In view of the numerous voices raised in opposition by the NMFs to the increase in the cover offered, the decision was taken to ask the NMFs to adapt their minimum cover as soon as possible, but without stipulating any deadline.
* Mr Luigi Brenni announced that eleven of the twelve road racing GPs in 1984 had been broadcast on TV. He suggested that the FIM should each year award a prize for the best televised broadcast.
* The limit of one cylinder in 125 cc would come into force on 1 January 1987 in the European championship and on 1 January 1988 in the GP world championship. There was also talk of a sport production world championship: superbike was coming closer.
* The Rodil trophy was in place: five events were scheduled for 1985: the Ullevi stadium in Göteborg (Sweden, 30 August), Nijmegen (the Netherlands, 14 September), Wembley (sic) in London (21 September), Barcelona on 5 October and Los Angeles on 2 November. The CMT requested the council to agree on the 1986 calendar during the autumn congress. The points calculation was different from that in force in other disciplines: 25 for the first, 22 for the second, etc., until 1 point for the 20th (this is the calculation in force today). It was decided to apply AMA regulations to stadium motocross with a few modifications - meaning the bikes had to be homologated and not prototypes. The manufacturers on the other hand, requested the status quo in motocross should be retained because it served as a test bench for the following year’s machines.
* At the trial/enduro commission, the proposal of raising the trial des nations to a world championship was accepted (the management council would enforce this from 1987).
* In track racing, the manufacturers declared themselves in favour of introducing a prize for manufacturers like in other disciplines. The management council would have to give its verdict on this subject. The participation of speedway in the world games would take place on 30 July 1985 at Wembley stadium with a pairs event.
* So the autumn congress did not take place in Guatemala, but in Portugal, at the hotel Estoril-Sol in Estoril, near Lisbon (from 19 to 26 October). 44 national federations were present or represented including five by proxy. Tunisia was accepted as a new member. The FIM/OPIT affair was progressing. Each party could now respond by the month of November before the arbitration commission ruled on the matter.
* One weighty issue was political. It was the request of the Soviet Union federation to suspend the South African federation for racial discrimination. The working group suggested the following: no world championship event or international meeting organised by the AASA, the exclusion of AASA licenced riders from world championship events, and an appeal to the federation not to authorise AASA riders to compete in international events. The debate was lively, the South African delegate claimed that the AASA had never practised discrimination and that it was completely independent from its government. The management council declared that the FIM had never wanted to pass judgement on the political systems of various nations, nor had it the right to negotiate with governments which would constitute a violation of the national sovereignty of sporting authorities.
* The general assembly finished by voting on two issues: By 58 votes to 29, it declared itself in favour of dropping the two South African GPs for 1986 (road racing and motocross). Then by 44 votes to 43 (sic), it voted in favour of the banning of South African riders from FIM championships and prizes.
* Mr Neville Goss, FIM Deputy president, gave a report on the FIA road safety sub-commission meeting as well as the congress which had been held in Venice on this question. The speedway pairs event had been organised as part of the World Games in London but the CCP was not really satisfied.
* On 22 October, a meeting of the “TV” working group was held. The discussion focused on the interest of centralising road racing GP rights as proposals existed. The working group made the following recommendations to the management council:
1) Establishment of a permanent TV development sub-committee with the power to invite the president of the sporting commission concerned which could receive all commercial offers for sponsoring of all disciplines and make recommendations to the management council.
2) Offers currently in the hands of the FIM should be presented during the road racing GP organisers meeting during the winter of 1985/1986.
3) Hiring of a commercial director/co-ordinator to test the market for the FIM in all disciplines. This position should be created on the basis of a direct contract with the FIM rather than with an agency, but not necessarily based in Geneva taking into account the necessary travel.
* At the CCR, the European championship was suffering. In spite of an adverse opinion from the riders, a derogation was awarded to circuits which were not yet homologated in order to have a championship worthy of the name. But from 1987 onwards, all tracks had to be homologated. The commission noted the report from the riders’ representatives, Franco Uncini and Martin Wimmer, as well as a document drawn up by IRRPA (journalist association) on the subject of press facilities. Following the decision taken by the general assembly, the CCR abandoned the South African GP but decided not to replace it. Following the cancellation of the side-car race in Silverstone, the technical commission suggested that a rear light should be fitted following consultation with riders in this category.
* At the CMT, regulations for a “multi surface” event (a name accepted in place of off-road which the management council felt was too general) were under examination. A project for a 125 and 250 cc European championship was also being reviewed: maximum age 21, five races (then six). Then there was talk of just a 125 event with the project to be presented at the 1986 spring meetings for implementation in 1988.
* In enduro, the commission thought that the world junior trophy which had replaced the silver vase was a success. It was in favour of introducing a 400cc four stroke category. Tyres without inner tubes now available in 12 countries, were accepted in enduro from 1 January 1986 onwards.
1986: TV contracts on the way
* All the members of the management council were present at the hotel du Rhone on 28 February 1986 with the exception of Mr Bosch (CT). Messrs Rodil del Valle, honorary president, and Luis Rodriguez, honorary vice president were also there.
* The council gave its approval to Mr Brenni’s proposal to increase the number of road racing GPs to 16. The minimum age for the European individual speedway championship was lowered to 17.
* The secretary general explained that the FIM had received a membership file from the Peruvian motorcycle federation which was contesting the authorisation of the “Inca Motor Club” which had been a member since 1953. Via the Peruvian embassy in Berne, it had transmitted documents which confirmed that the Peruvian institute for sports recognised it alone to manage motorcycle racing in Peru. The “Inca Motor Club” responded by saying that the minister’s signature had been forged (sic). The ULM had no longer recognised the federation for a number of years now (this divergence between the FIM and the ULM was not the only one as we shall see later). The secretary general was charged with gathering the necessary documentation to inform the general assembly and allow it to take the appropriate decision.
* The renegotiation of the Camel contract was confronted with the protests from industry concerning the obligation for the riders to wear the bib. If this clause was withdrawn from the contract, it was not a foregone conclusion that Camel would renew the contract and the financial conditions would certainly not be the same. The problem was that article 60.7 of the sporting code stated that an organiser could not force a rider to wear advertising that was in competition with his own advertising contracts. In addition, tobacco advertising was beginning to create serious problems in terms of TV coverage. The council ended up deciding that bibs could not be compulsory.
* Concerning TV rights, the working group recommended that the FIM should seek to develop its policy with an existing group of organisers and promoters on condition that they could create a formal organisation which would fulfil the requirements for membership of the FIM as an associate member. The revival of ROPA (Road Racing Organisers and Promoters’ Association) was underway.
* The management council gave its agreement to a working session with CT and CCR members aimed at establishing the draft regulations for the future “superbike TT world championship” as well as any changes or additions to the 1987 calendar. The first draft of the regulations mentioned two classes, the TT superbike with engines between 400 and 750, 3 or 4 cylinders, four strokes, minimum weight 165 kg and engines of more than 550 up to 1000 twin cylinders four strokes, minimum weight 140 kg (i) with maximum fuel tank capacity of 24 litres. The other class was called “superstreet” with four stroke twin cylinders up to 550, with 3 or 4 cylinders four strokes up to 400 and twin cylinder two strokes up to 250 with maximum fuel tank capacity of 18 litres. “Machines for sport production races should be standard production models constructed during the previous five years, sold for road traffic use and equipped with a total electric system which conformed in every way to the demands of the 1968 Vienna convention…” The planned entry into force was 1 January 1987 for superbike and 1988 for endurance.
* The suggestion to include the South African GP in the calendar again was dropped and the Brazilian GP made its first appearance. The CCR, in its session reports, invited the management council to consider the following problems: advantages which the manufacturers’, competitors’ and sponsors’ licences offered, a system of permanent passes for the GP for riders on the priority lists, a survey among press officers for issuing press cards, TV rights, contracts for the time-keepers, contracts with sponsors, possible financial help for GP organisers outside Europe. As a replacement for Billy McMaster, the new vice president for the CCR was a certain Joseph Zegwaard.
* In motocross, the United States GP appeared for 250 in place of South Africa. An interval of two weeks had to be respected between GPs on different continents. Concerning the starting grid, the CMS decided only to authorise individual transversal systems which folded or dropped backwards. The minimum width was fixed at 40 metres. The European championship would take place in 1988, in 125 cc with six events. It would be reserved for riders up to 21 years of age. In cross side-car, the proposal to limit engine capacity to 750 was accepted for 1989.
* The trial des nations would become a world championship from 1988 onwards. Rules for indoor trial which had existed since 1982, had to be combined into regulations for a possible future championship. A new class, 350 four strokes was introduced in enduro and the Six days. An enduro world championship as well as a manufacturers’ prize was mentioned.
* The 107th FIM congress took place in Palermo at the invitation of the “Federazione Motociclistica Italiana”, which was celebrating its 75th anniversary. In his opening speech, president Nicolas Schmit thanked the FMI and, after giving a brief summary of activities during 1986, he emphasised the need to be able to count on the new statutes – an allusion directed to the general assembly, of course – but also on the creation of a consultative body charged with taking in hand motorcycle road safety aspects in collaboration with specialised international organisations. During the opening session, 42 federations were represented including five by proxy. Several federations had not settled their debts which meant that their right to vote was withdrawn. As proposed by the council, the assembly introduced an amnesty for that year, but “the application of the internal regulations would be strict from the following year”.
* The various proposals from the commissions were then reviewed. A remark by the Japanese technical delegate, Mr Yamada revealed a hidden problem: the situation of non-European riders wishing to take part in FIM championships in general and GPs in particular, was not straightforward. He requested that the priority lists should be adapted paying more attention to these riders. He also pointed out the heavy costs imposed on GP organisers outside Europe. The costs of the Japanese GP with four classes on the programme, was estimated at five million Swiss francs (sic), and he requested that the different treatment between these organisers and European organisers should be eliminated. The idea of equal treatment began to appear, but it was far from straightforward.
* The federations of India (FMSCI), Andorra (FMA) and Liechtenstein (LMV) were accepted as new members. The Peruvian federation replaced the “Inca Motor Club” as the representative from that country. The new draft statutes were adopted coming into force on 1 January 1987, as well as the internal regulations and the disciplinary arbitration code.
* Several proposals from the FMI which would have long term consequences were approved: the representation of the FIM in international bodies where issues arose concerning motorcycling in its various forms; the FIM should find solutions to problems of organisers on other continents; steps should be taken with the IOC for motorcycling to be recognised as an Olympic sport; an executive board should be created as a new decision-making body.
* Two requests for membership as associate members were examined and approved: ROPA (Road Racing Organisers and Promoters’ Association) – there had been misgivings when this association had first been formed – and IRTA (International Road Racing Team Association), the latter being required nonetheless to “update” its statutes which were not in accordance with the FIM because they permitted the association to mark a possible disagreement with a federation decision (which is quite ironic taking into account what followed). The management council also demanded that a member of the FIM should be permitted to attend the IRTA general assembly sessions.
* The management council decided to abolish the judicial committee on 31 December. The FMNs would be asked to designate judges to be included in the list of international judges who would operate according to the disciplinary and arbitration code. Contact had to be made with the FIA concerning the control of four-wheeled “trikes” which would soon be known as quads. A group of “advisers for road safety” was formed with Deputy president Neville Goss in charge.
* The AASA representative (South African federation) protested against the fact that the South African GP was not on the 1987 calendar since the general assembly decision taken in Estoril was only valid for one year (the same as the decision concerning the ban on South African riders competing in GPs). President Schmit responded that the question was not on the agenda for the general assembly and would not be discussed (although the AASA request had been examined – and rejected – by the management council).
* The fair-play trophy introduced by the promotion committee was awarded for the first time. The winner was the French rider Patrick Igoa who had done everything he could to ensure that his endurance world title should be shared with his team-mates Gérard Coudray and Alex Vieira.
* In road racing, the most important aspect was the start of the superbike world championship which had been postponed for a year due to lack of time and the retention of the TT-F1 world championship after discussions with the riders (“it will not be replaced by the superbike” is clearly stated in the report). A proposal from the company MCC & Associates for the exclusive rights to promote the superbike world championship, transmitted by the AMA, was judged vague and not sufficiently detailed. The financial conditions to be applied would be announced during the 1987 Geneva meetings. However the TT-F2 class was abandoned due to lack of events.
* The starting procedure with the engine running was finally adopted with the majority of riders in favour of it. The starting procedure was completely reviewed following the decision to have the engine running – still largely applied today – with a sighting lap, signals for 5, 3, 1 minute, 30 seconds, green flag, warm-up lap, etc.
* Stadium motocross had become a world wide discipline and the CMS proposed that the management council should raise the status of the Rodil trophy to the status of world championship. Concerning the motocross des nations, the success of the new formula led the commission to adopt on a definitive basis the regulations with three races for two classes only rather than three, because of safety concerns considering the number of teams entered. Each rider from each team would therefore take part in two races.
* Interest aroused by motocross was declining every year. This fact was apparent, according to the CMS president Tage Magnusson, all over Europe, including the world championships. He therefore proposed that a working group should be set up to study the problem and to find solutions to reverse this trend.
* At the commission for trial and enduro, the development of a European indoor trial championship was taking shape. However, the European Two day enduro championship was encountering a majority of people against raising its status to a world championship, with the idea of organising an individual world title in the framework of the Six days. Some suggestions were made to modify enduro’s image and to distance it from motocross which was more aggressive. Ideas put forward were the reduction of distances covered, better criteria for choosing the routes in order to avoid ecological problems. It was also suggested that the commission should disclose more openly the efforts it was making to create enduro tyres and to reduce noise.
1987: TV rights in Turmoil
* Following proposals presented in Palermo by the FMI, Don Rodil explained that it was not the first time that a request had been made by the FIM for recognition by the IOC. He stated that, since he had known Mr Samaranch for a long time, he had made this request which had already been turned down in 1983. Don Rodil listed the relations established during his presidency by the FIM with the international federation of non-governmental institutions (FIIG), the general association of international sports federations (AGFIS), the FIA (FIM-FIA agreement), the international tourism alliance (AIT), as well as the IOC.
* The main issue concerned the financial and commercial conditions for the future world superbike championship. The problem was that the federation did not have the specialists to take care of this and some national federations did not accept this project for centralisation. For the superbike, the executive board was entrusted with finding solutions and taking a decision. In the meantime, the CCR drew up a calendar on the basis of requests received from the FMNs. Concerning other championships and essentially the GPs, the council decided that the only way to defuse the situation was to ban from 20 February 1987 onwards, that’s to say, immediately, the signature of any new contract by organisers or their agents. The FIM would take over the rights again on 1 January 1989.
* Another problem was faced by supercross. There was a strong risk that rogue series would be created. The council followed the CMS proposal to raise the Rodil Trophy to the rank of stadium motocross world championship and decided to retain the TV rights with the executive board in charge of managing them.
* After a long debate, the management council announced that it was in favour of using video to take decisions in difficult situations – which was ahead of the times in comparison with other sports.
* The CCR president, Luigi Brenni, announced that he would not be standing again for the CCR at the end of his mandate in 1988. He would be a candidate for the presidential election in 1989.
* For safety reasons, the CMS decided to ban double and triple jumps in stadium motocross, which would not help the situation with supercross developing rapidly and this largely due to its spectacular jumps.
* The consultative group for road safety was officially set up with the president named as the Briton Neville Goss who thus relinquished the post of Deputy president to Francesco Zerbi The group’s priorities were issues relating to the use of motorcycles by the general public and more particularly, safety, legislation, insurance, education, and the promotion of such issues. It also closely monitored any new international and/or national legislation relating to motorcycling and the possible effects of motorcycling on public roads. Among the matters considered, the education of riders was deemed crucial alongside questions of noise, pollution and safety such as motorcycle visibility (use of headlights during the day and brightly coloured clothing). The creation of an annual FIM safety challenge recognising the contribution of an FMN to motorcycle road safety was raised.
* The company “MCC & Associates”, which would become SMC, was a candidate to manage and market the TV rights of the superbike world championship. The representatives from the company, Messrs McLaughlin, Jones and Lines were invited to attend the executive board meeting in May. The idea was to establish a calendar which would not coincide with GPs. It was intended that the superbike should be held before and after the road racing GPs! This idea although ideal in theory, encountered some problems such as the need for a winter break or the number of circuits in the southern hemisphere well inferior to the northern hemisphere. The proposal was judged to be very interesting by the executive board even if a transitional solution would have to be found for 1988 since the calendar was already established. Since no other offer had been received, the BE decided to draw up a letter of intention to enable them to begin their activities. A draft contract would be established by the FIM.
* The management committee for the GP TV rights would be composed for FIM, ROPA and AICP (circuits) representatives according to terms to be defined. GP TV rights would be managed and exploited by the organisers until 1st January 1989. The executive board expressed interest but showed less haste than for superbike, preferring to wait for the management committee to be formed before discussing a possible contract.
* Things were beginning to move also on the part of Mr Ecclestone, whom the FIM treasurer, Mr Bonny had met. He said he was prepared to sign a five-year contract with the FIM with the same benefits as for the FIA (Concord agreements) for F1. He wanted to be able to market the GP TV and marketing rights and to control the calendar and the circuits.
* The executive board met again in August in Geneva to discuss remarks made on the draft contract with SMC. For the 1988 season, conditions had already been fixed and it was not possible to impose new financial burdens on the organisers. The next executive board meeting would take place on 17 September and if the majority of the board members were in agreement the contract would be signed at that time.
* Attention then turned to the GPs. Messrs Metraux (president of IRTA but also representative of the sponsor ELF) and Beneviste (Philippe Morris) explained that the main sponsors were demanding a co-ordinated and professional management of TV rights. Running costs for the teams was becoming a huge investment and the sponsors had to justify these amounts with regular broadcasts. They said they were ready to form a Swiss commercial company together in charge of financing the FIM’s management of TV rights with a group of professionals. The company would not take care of advertising which would remain the task of the organisers. In exchange for ceding these rights, the FIM would receive a yearly fee and would have a seat on the board of the company. The executive board then asked Messrs Metraux and Beneviste to forward a detailed draft contract to the FIM which would be studied by the working group on 17 September.
* It was then the turn for Mr Bernie Ecclestone who had requested a hearing with the executive board. He explained that nobody currently knew the value of the TV rights which the FIM owned. He did not request control of the calendar, but wished “to collaborate with the FIM to establish dates and circuits”.
* The 1987 congress was held in Paris from 24 to 31 October. The number of federations present was 48 (including proxies) which was a new record. No less than seven associate members were also present.
* The “Automobile Association of Malaysia” was accepted as FIM member. A new associate member was accepted – the “International Private Drivers Association” (IPDA) which united 66 private road racers.
* Then the TV rights issues were considered. Four proposals had been received but discussions which had been preliminarily opened during a meeting of the executive board on 10 and 11 October, were focused on the appointment of an expert to work directly for the FIM. For the federation it was a case of “preserving total independence with regards to the various parties involved in GPs. This person would be charged with co-ordinating the sale of GP television rights and managing their commercial aspects as well as those of film and video. Concerning the sponsorship rights for the road racing world championship GPs, the FIM would also exercise its rights as the statutes permitted”.
* Concerning the world superbike championship, the executive board had drawn up a marketing contract with the company “Sports Marketing Company” (SMC), based in New Zealand. The FIM signed the contract on 17 September. In response to the question as to whether the guarantee had been paid, the treasurer explained that SMC’s mother company was on the verge of being floated on the stock exchange which had delayed some of the administrative issues. The council gave its agreement but demanded that the guarantee should be paid by 15 November.
* Facing a lot of criticism regarding the management of the TV rights in general by some FMNs, President Schmit proposed to call a meeting with all the road racing GP organising federations before the month of December. But the same criticism was levelled at the decisions taken for the superbike world championship, and the council decided to authorise the federations who wished to do so, to cancel their event on the 1988 calendar by 30 November, and those who wished to register one, to do so within the same timeframe. This decision would be extended to TTF-1.
* The ROPA representative, Mr Maurizio Flammini gave a presentation on TV rights and requested permission to be able to explain the situation to the management council. Concerning IRTA, the secretary general, Mike Trimby, declared that the “aim of IRTA was to create closer links with the FIM.” Good work had been made in 1987 (passes, arrangements for overseas GPs). The harmonisation of GP organisation would be highly desirable (scrutineering, medical checks, time of practice and the race). On this subject, Mr Flammini emphasised that ROPA had established a programme which would be submitted to the FIM and all the organisers. As we can see, a definition of the roles and general organisation seemed to be inevitable but things were not going to work out, since many subjects such as the drawing up of the calendar were decided behind closed doors.
* The president’s report was read and approved in his absence. This report included considerations on the future of the GP world championship, including the different powers (executive, legislative, judicial), the need for a single central management, more decision making powers for the commission board, a limited international jury and the development of seminars. Some parts of this report are quite prophetic.
* The CCR decided to change the scale for points in the world road racing championships: the first fifteen would score points (20, 17, 15, 13, 11, etc) starting on 1 January 1988. These points would be doubled for 24 hour endurance events.
* At the CMS, one point for discussion was motocross itself, which had been declining in popularity. A solution had to be found and a meeting would be organised with promoters, organisers, the media and representatives from industry before the 1988 Geneva meetings.
* Cross country rallies were a problem due to the total absence of FIM regulation. The FFM had the most experience in this domain and was entrusted with helping the CTE to find a solution.
* In the Track racing commission, it was proposed to introduce a trophy named after Johnnie Hoskins, considered to be the founding “father of speedway”, who had passed away in April 1987. This trophy would be awarded to the winner of the speedway champions’ cup under the banner “the Johnnie Hoskins Memorial Cup.
* Eleven world records had been smashed on the track at Elvington in Great Britain. The FIM commissioner, Mr Charles Dillen, CT vice president, remarked that it would be preferable to have information in advance for example, who was attempting what and on what day, to make the work easier (sic).
* The consultative group for road safety had launched several studies: an enquiry on educational programmes for motorcyclists, the control of vehicles, pollution and exhaust fumes, recognition of the FIM as an international authority on road safety, sessions with the FIA as well as general safety questions such as visibility of motorcyclists, road construction and materials used and measures planned by various governments (leg protection, a posteriori alcohol tests), where the effectiveness appeared dubious. A research programme named “Prometheus” had been initiated in 1986 by the automobile industry concerning active safety, relative safety between vehicles and on board road information. This was the beginning of the computer era.
* Finally the executive board believed that it had become essential to find new, more suitable premises for the FIM. The council agreed and requested the secretary general to begin looking and to take the necessary steps.
* A session on GP TV rights had taken place on 14 December in Geneva. President Schmit was ill and so it was the first vice president Francesco Zerbi who presided over the session, accompanied by Messrs Bonny, Kervella, Noll and Maitre. Representatives from 15 organising federations and/or organisers were present as well as representatives from IRTA and ROPA. The situation had continued to develop since the congress. The FIM had been approached by IRTA and ROPA together, proposing a joint solution via the company “MotoMedia”. Mr Zerbi ceded the floor to representatives from “MotoMedia”. Mr Michel Metraux gave a presentation. “The company MotoMedia is an association of firms resulting from an agreement IRTA and ROPA have reached for the joint management of GP TV rights; MotoMedia is a Swiss commercial company with which the FIM would sign a concession contract for the rights. MotoMedia would mandate one or several specialised agencies with the aim of guaranteeing TV coverage of every GP and the best marketing deals possible for retransmission. As for the management of MotoMedia, this would be entrusted to a management committee made up of representatives nominated by IRTA, ROPA, the FIM and the sponsors, according to a formula to be discussed. MotoMedia would be funded by sponsors. The running costs would be very high, since income would probably be less than the production expenses for the images.”
* A debate then ensued during which several points were discussed: ROPA constitution and representation, management of national TV rights (by whom?), GP marketing, which remained in the hands of the organisers unless the FIM appointed a global sponsor for the championships. Some FMNs were opposed to the fact that the supply of the signal was compulsory, which did not help matters. It was obvious that the FMNs would have to accept the principle of a co-ordinated management of TV rights, which aimed to improve the image of road racing and enable the FMNs to take advantage of television in terms of advertising income. A continuation of the negotiations with MotoMedia was scheduled for the beginning of 1988.
1988: Positions become more radical
* The Geneva meetings took place from 25 February to 1 March. The fully present management council tackled an agenda which from the outset was not too heavy, but discussions were to prove long.
* The contract between the FIM and MotoMedia was then discussed. The council stressed the need to separate TV rights from video rights, to guarantee the cancelling of the contract with immediate effect and to ensure the automatic return of the rights to the FIM should the company go bankrupt, be sold or ceded. It was also necessary to supply income to the FMNs and to erase any reference to UER norms in order to restrict the framework of the contract to Europe only.
* An article was added to the appendix “road racing”. If it began to rain during the race this was not enough to stop the race: if they wished, riders could come into the pits and change tyres. The race would only be stopped in the case of torrential rain. The 80 cc class was abandoned at the end of 1989. The CCR invited the CT to study the possibility of including 750 four stroke engines in the side-car class. The CCR requested the technical commission to devise regulations for 1988 for the “silhouette” class (or superstock – sic!). The CCR also proposed to organise a European dragsters championship starting in 1990. Upon a proposal by Mr Brenni, the minimum weight for a 500 was increased to 115 kg (starting in 1990) and supercharging was banned (starting in 1991).
* Standards for circuits were discussed with two representatives from FISA who ceded to the FIM the copyright of the new edition of safety criteria. The texts covered the surface of the track and systems for measuring its anti-slip qualities were discussed. Representatives from FISA wanted FISA and the FIM to have the same regulations concerning press facilities. A new edition of the standards would be drawn up for the 1988 congress and would come into effect on 1 January 1989, after discussion with FISA.
* Sito Pons and Steve Webster, the riders’ representatives at the CCR, requested that the riders’ representatives should have the right to vote in the commission. Sito Pons highlighted safety issues which were essential. For 1988 IRTA, with the agreement of ROPA, was charged with printing and distributing permanent passes. Things appeared to be working well between the various parties in GP racing, but the following paragraph from the same CCR report (proposals to the management council) gives food for thought: “The management of the GP world championship should be centralised at the FIM secretariat in Geneva and some responsibilities which are currently in the hands of organisers, ROPA and IRTA, should be limited. Registration rights for organisers should be increased in order to finance overseas travel and a GP riders’ licence should be created at a much higher price than currently implemented. The FIM secretariat would distribute permanent passes to riders holding a GP licence. One person should be nominated to distribute these passes and to make changes during GPs, harmonise the rules for the “GP spectacle”, and organise GP travel outside Europe”.
* Concerning the marathon rallies issue, the problem was resolved. President Schmit had met president Ballestre in Paris and the latter had come to Geneva for an FIM/FISA meeting. He explained that his intention had never been to damage the FIM or the sport of motorcycling, but to ensure that these events respected federal structures and regulations. A convention of co-operation was signed between the two federations.
* Three sessions of the executive board were held between the meetings in Geneva and the congress. Discussions were gradually progressing between the various protagonists in MotoMedia. The board denied allegations which stated it had not followed up on Mr Ecclestone’s proposals. In spite of several requests, he had never forwarded any precise proposal. The MotoMedia contract was finally signed on 17 June.
* During the session on 29 August, Mr Metraux recalled that the main aim was to find the best way to maximise media coverage for GPs and for this a true TV specialist had to be found, even if it should be … Bernie Ecclestone. If this were the case, then a three-year contract should be signed with him.
* The subject of Camel was also broached. Reynolds Tobacco had decided not to renew the contract with the FIM after 12 years. The official reason was that riders were not obliged to wear the bib which resulted in a large loss of exposure. Large investment in another sport (also in motor sport) also seemed to be a plausible explanation.
* Then the Argentinian GP arose once again. It was scheduled in less than a month and the board members had learnt of its cancellation in the press! This decision had been taken at the very last minute by two CCR vice presidents in the face of a situation which was visibly impossible to resolve. The problem now concerned the Goiânia GP and the funding of travel to Brazil which was the total responsibility of the CBM which was already involved in organising the Rio congress.
* Rio de Janeiro, from 9 to 15 October, Rio Othon Palace Hotel, Copacabana: 47 national federations were represented on the first day, 45 on the last, including 8 by proxy. Five associate members were present.
* The request for membership from the Thai federation was accepted. The “Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of Thailand” (FMSCT) therefore rejoined the FIM.
* So Luigi Brenni retired from the road racing commission and Roger Lechner from the tourism and gatherings commission. President Schmit paid them a glowing tribute on behalf of the management council. But the history of engineer Brenni at the FIM was not yet over.
* Various reports were studied: one from IRRPA mentioned that TV commentator booths were not always in good condition. Mr Michel Metraux, IRTA president, reminded the gathering that IRTA was a partner of the FIM and wanted to collaborate. On three recent occasions (Argentina 1987, Germany and Belgium 1988), the teams association had moved to avoid a boycott by riders. The reduction requested – and rejected – was for economic reasons and to avoid any dates clash with F1… which would result in lost TV coverage. Mr Metraux confessed his sadness that all the IRTA proposals had been rejected by the CCR. IPDA (the privateers) was opposed to the dropping of the 80 class and this association believed that the FIM should manage and distribute the passes. The riders’ representatives, Sito Pons and Steve Webster, both world champions that year, informed the CCR of the intention to form a working committee composed of two delegates at the CCR and reigning world champions to improve safety measures at the tracks and to submit a report on the track itself. Mr Brenni also suggested organising a session in January with the representatives from associate members.
* A meeting of the board of the CCR had taken place in July. Mr Brenni believed that it was a positive initiative and encouraged his successor to hold such a session in mid-season in order to prepare documents for the congress. The said successor was not enthusiastic and expressed his regrets on the contents of the minutes in particular on several points… without stating which ones. Mr Brenni asked him to express himself clearly and in writing pointing out any errors in the minutes, in view of the oral misunderstanding.
* At the CMS, it was decided to introduce fixed starting numbers based on the rider’s final ranking from the previous year. FISA had given its approval to the management of quad races, which were four-wheeled vehicles, but which operated on entirely motorcycle based technology. The CMS would take care of regulating these events. The FMI requested authorisation for a series of events called the “Masters of Motocross”, starting in 1989.
* The CTE was divided into two working groups (trial and enduro), following the management council decision. The Two Days’ enduro championship finally earned its status as world championship (from 1990 onwards). Each class had to have a minimum of 15 entries (instead of ten up to now).
* Finally at the medical committee, cannabis was retained on the FIM list of banned substances (it was not on the IOC list).
* A session of the executive board was held on 18 November. Four people were present: president Nicolas Schmit, the treasurer Brian Bonny, vice president Wilhelm Noll and secretary general, Guy Maitre. Messrs Zerbi and Kervella sent their apologies. Mr Bonny explained the circumstances surrounding the signature of the contract between the company MotoMedia and Mr Ecclestone’s ISC. The television signal would be supplied by the FMNs in precise technical conditions. ISC could take charge of producing the signal with the prior approval and agreement of the FMN.
1989: A new president, new policies
* The Geneva meetings took place at the Hotel du Rhone from 23 to 27 February. The treasurer’s report notes that since Camel had not renewed its contract, a major source of income had disappeared. Mr Vaessen requested that a five-year plan should be established for financial and political purposes. Mr Zerbi emphasised that serious risks were threatening the sport and the motorcycling industry and that strategic planning was necessary.
* Concerning road racing, Mr Zegwaard proposed to review the system of allocating GPs “to the advantage of every FMN and not only those financially well off”. Mr Schmit asked for concrete proposals to be put forward. Then the merger of superbike and TTF-1 was raised. According to the secretary general, it was necessary to have the view of all concerned (factories, riders, teams, organisers) as well as SMC.
* The CCR president proposed to curtail the future of supporting races at GPs. On the day of the race, the GP should only have the four classes and three in overseas races for 1990-1991 (but for financial reasons, it would remain at two). The number of requests to organise a GP was on the increase. The main criteria for selection was conformity to FIM standards and then only the quality of the organisation. It was also proposed that the international jury should make a confidential report to be submitted to the CCR.
* In the European championship, the 500 class was finally replaced, not by the “superstreet” class but by the supersport 600 production from 1 January 1990 onwards.
* Sito Pons thanked the commission for the progress made in terms of track safety. A riders’ commission would send a report to the CCR after each GP. On the other hand, Sito Pons demanded on behalf of the riders a substantial and regular increase in the prize scale beginning with the incorporation of the money intended for the 80cc class into the four other categories with an increase of 25% with the prizes being reviewed on an annual basis.
* At the technical commission, the minimum weight for a 500 twin-cylinder machine would be 95kg starting in 1990. The commission found no valid reason to ban titanium in general but only for certain parts.
* The promotion committee suggested that a periodic news should be published (FIM News) which would report on the federation’s activities, not only as propaganda, but also better to represent the FIM and its current issues. It was also proposed to improve relations between the FMNs and to take new initiatives aimed at attracting membership of new national federations. The CP noted that vintage motorcycle events were taking place in various countries but that the FIM was not active in this sector.
* President Schmit announced that he would not be standing for re-election at the end of his mandate at the Maastricht congress. On behalf of the management council, he paid tribute to Mr Neville Goss, FIM vice president for his prestigious award of Order of the British Empire.
* Deputy president Zerbi had requested that according to certain articles of the internal regulations which stated that the FIM responsibility should be entrusted to vice presidents, Messrs Bonny and Maitre should be replaced within MotoMedia by vice presidents. The secretary general requested that an extraordinary session of the management council should take place to enable those concerned to give and receive explanations. He would request the advice of a lawyer concerning the interpretation of these articles of the internal regulations.
* So the council met on 24 March. But before discussing the representation of the FIM within MotoMedia, a thunderbolt had just shaken the 1989 season even before it had begun. A few days earlier, just before the first race to take place in Donington Park on 27 March, the company SMC had renounced its contract of promoting the superbike world championship. The problem was that the season was already underway and the big question was who was going to pay the travel expenses – the organisers of Mosport (Canada) and Brainerd (USA) were “somewhat concerned” but also Donington since the riders were already in the paddock. The guarantee promised by SMC to the FIM since the Paris congress had never been paid in spite of numerous reminders and promises given by SMC. Some council members were surprised they had not been kept informed. The secretary general reminded the gathering that this contract had been strongly criticised from the start by some federations. At the time, information from some management council sessions “filtered” systematically through to the specialised press which divulged in precise terms the internal discussions and decisions taken by the council which were meant to remain confidential. The fear of seeing this information on the guarantee filter through into the press had certainly played a determining role. Moreover, other SMC obligations with regards to the teams, the riders, the FMNRs and the FIM had been respected which had reinforced the feeling of trust.
* The discussion recommenced. Some members believed that the council should have been informed in Rio that the guarantee had not been paid, in order to take immediate measures and cancel the contract before the following season if necessary. The treasurer and the secretary general should not have taken the responsibility of keeping the information to themselves. The FIM should face up to its obligations. Mr Zegwaard confirmed that as far as he was concerned the SMC problems were common knowledge (sic) and rumours were circulating that SMC had already attempted on two occasions to sell the FIM contract and so caution should have been exercised. President Schmit was astounded. No one had been informed about these rumours.
* Mr Youngblood suggested that the championship should be continued and that organisers who so wished should cancel their event before 15 April without penalty. Bonuses due for Donington should be paid and that marketing rights for 1989 should be returned to the organising federations. A working group would find a solution within a month for the travel expenses and the distribution of images for the championship while legal measures should be undertaken to seek redress for the damage caused by SMC’s withdrawal.
* It still remained to discuss the MotoMedia contract signed by the FIM, IRTA and ROPA and the TV contract signed with Bernie Ecclestone’s ISC. President Schmit noted that FIM representatives in MotoMedia had been nominated in June 1988 in agreement with the executive board and confirmed during the management council in Rio. He therefore did not propose to replace them. Some vice presidents indicated that the council members had not received a copy of the contract signed between MotoMedia and ISC and that they had not been kept informed of the negotiations to which the president replied that it was a private contract that the signatories had not wished to make public. The treasurer and the secretary general announced that they had reported on their functions within MotoMedia at the Rio congress where a public information session presided over by Mr Zerbi had been held for the FMNRs. Mr Youngblood added that the decision to confide the TV and marketing rights to an entity independent from the FIM had been taken by the management council and that this decision must be assumed until the end without forgetting that “MotoMedia is not an FIM committee” (sic).
* After a long debate, a vote was taken in which the treasurer refused to take part since the secretary general could not participate. By eight votes to six, the council decided that the vice presidents should represent the FIM within MotoMedia. This was too much for president Schmit who felt abandoned by the council and offered his resignation. The session was suspended. After speeches by Messrs Zerbi and Vaessen, supported by other members, and the confirmation that the vote was only a decision in principle for that in future nominations, the FIM should be represented in MotoMedia by the vice presidents, Nicolas Schmit was persuaded to withdraw his resignation. The report finished with this phrase: “the management council expressed its support and confidence in the two current FIM representatives on the MotoMedia board.”
* A session of the executive board was held on 30 May also in Geneva. Those present were: Messrs Schmit, Zerbi, Bonny, Kervella, Kittilsen and Maitre. Invited to attend some of the session were: Messrs Joseph Zegwaard (CCR president), Mr Michel Metraux (IRTA president), Mr Mike Trimby (IRTA secretary general) and Mr Giacomo Agostini (IRTA vice president). This session was intended in part to review a GP season which was not running completely smoothly. President Schmit offered the floor to Mr Metraux who listed a series of problems which had occurred during the Italian GP in Misano where tickets for the riders’ paddock had been placed on sale. In the night of Saturday to Sunday, the paddock had not been guarded and several teams had had material stolen. An accumulation of various incidents notably the fact that the track had been inspected without consulting the riders had resulted in the fact, together with the rain and the slippery track, that the 500 riders had refused to start. At the United States GP, still according to Mr Metraux, organisation had been poor and time-keeping defective. The CCR president was present but did not intervene and there had been no consultation with IRTA. At the German GP in Hockenheim, as soon as the teams had arrived, the organisers had sought confrontation with IRTA and refused to hand over passes to professional journalists. Tickets for the riders paddock had been sold, the conditions of the FIM/MotoMedia contract had not been respected since the local television channel had received no instructions from the OMK. An arrangement had been found on Saturday morning for the TV signal and MotoMedia had been forced to pay DM 50,000. Finally during an accident during the 250 race, the race director had delayed showing the red flag and the track marshals had not shown the correct flags. In conclusion, IRTA was urgently demanding more professionalism from the FIM in the way it managed GPs (for example, the same starter for all the GPs), an improvement in the travel conditions outside Europe, practice only two days (Friday and Saturday) to reduce costs, and a more realistic calendar to enable riders and team staff to have more recuperation time.
* Once the IRTA members had left the session, the executive board and the CCR president decided that the decision concerning the number of GPs was a political one and therefore the responsibility of the management council (sporting code). The CCR drew up a calendar according to the council decisions based on technical criteria and fixed organisation conditions.
* Speaking of the superbike world championship, Mr Zegwaard resumed the situation: two companies were currently interested: Dentsu (Japan) and Flammini (Italy). After discussions, the executive board evoked the idea of combining the know-how of both companies, Dentsu for television and Flammini for marketing. According to Mr Zegwaard this would mean that the risks and costs could be split between them. The board decided to invite a representative from Dentsu and Flammini to the manufacturers’ session in Assen.
* An extraordinary meeting of the management council took place on 6 September of the same year in Geneva. President Schmit hoped that “this session would help to dissipate the bad atmosphere reigning among officials on the eve of the Maastricht congress” (sic). All members were present except Mr Youngblood (excused) and Mr Brian Bonny who had resigned “for professional reasons” (sic). Mr Goss once again accepted the post of interim treasurer. The mandate would be opened for elections at the Maastricht congress but there would be no candidates. President Schmit proposed to nominate Deputy president Zerbi to replace Mr Bonny on the management board of MotoMedia.
* Concerning the superbike world championship, the secretary general announced that for various reasons, the initiation of legal proceedings in New Zealand against the company SMC would take a long time, would be expensive and would not bring about very much. The council agreed not to embark on such proceedings but some members including Mr Van der Leest, president of the finance board, requested an independent audit to assess the financial risks undertaken by the FIM in certain matters (OPIT, loan to the CBM, SMC affair) since the BF was not expert in terms of Swiss legal issues. The council decided to appoint a financial expert or lawyer qualified to assess the risks. Concerning negotiations, not much progress had been made with Dentsu (no reponse had been received) while the Flammini group had declared it was ready to sign a three-year renewable contract as soon as possible so as not to hamper the following season. Mr Flammini confirmed his agreement, the respect of permanent advertising at the tracks and the payment of a guarantee through an insurance for the amounts due to the FIM and to the riders.
* Another problem was the German GP in Hockenheim. Video cassettes were played, showing the exact circumstances that had cost the life of Venezuelan rider Ivan Palazzese. It transpired that the race direction had delayed in stopping the race and that crossed flags had not been shown. However riders had not slowed down when yellow flags had been waved. A new system had to be introduced or communication between the race direction and track marshals had to be improved. Training should also be improved and it was desirable that the FIM and FISA regulations on the issue be harmonised.
* Then came the Maastricht congress held from 21 to 28 October 1989 in the city in the Netherlands which had become famous for the European Union treaty that bears its name. The sessions took place in the “European Community Centre Building”. Fifty one federations were present including eight by proxy.
* The agenda for the management council started with the international tribunal of appeal which had recently judged two issues. The first between the FIM and the Italian enduro rider Franco Gualdi had been upheld therefore reversing the previous decision: the title of European 350 champion was awarded to the French rider Laurent Charbonnel.
* The other matter concerned the rider Mitch Shirra, who had once again appealed against the decision given earlier. The TIA had reached a “nuanced” verdict (sic), recognising that Mr Shirra had broken FIM regulations concerning drugs (and banned substances, since it was a question of cannabis) and condemned him to a suspension of his licence for one year together with a suspended ban also of a year. Costs were set at 75% for the account of the FIM! In the light of this judgement, the secretary general noted that regulations concerning drugs in the FIM medical code should be modified somewhat.
* The Islamic republic of Iran was a new candidate and was accepted by the general assembly.
* The election of the new FIM president took place on Friday 27 October and there was only one candidate, Jos Vaessen, KNMV secretary general and CCP president, elected with 87 votes. The other candidate, Mr Luigi Brenni had no political support and withdrew his nomination to find himself with no FIM post as he was not elected vice president. After receiving the post of honorary CCR president, he would disappear from the world of motorcycling for several years. Mr Goss accepted to continue as interim treasurer since no one had been nominated to replace Mr Bonny.
* Following the withdrawal of SMC, the council decided to entrust the marketing and the promotion of the superbike world championship to the company Flammini Racing belonging to Mr Maurizio Flammini. The council mandated a working group to finalise the negotiations during the congress. The contract would be signed before the end of the year and the federations who were not in agreement with the terms of the contract could withdraw their race from the calendar before 31 December without charge.
* The management council stated that for a number of years, the FIM had taken no interest in motorcyclists’ road safety to devote itself almost exclusively to sport. Yet very serious connotations were threatening users both in terms of their safety in traffic and legislation being prepared. There was also growing antagonism against motorcyclists from environmental protectionists. The FIM therefore had to make available the means to co-ordinate the defense of users’ interests by naming a panel of experts qualified in this area. The council considered the question to be a priority.
* The commission for road racing discussed the issue of one starter for all 1990 GPs. This point was also raised during the general assembly (nomination of a marshal/referee). The question of a supervisor for GPs was supported by IRTA president Michel Metraux. This would improve the sport’s image and safety and also ensure that what happened during the Belgian GP (three starts) and in Germany would not happen again. IRTA proposed to create a “calendar commission” composed of members of the CCR, representatives from MotoMedia, teams and riders, in order that all parties concerned could collaborate and create a dialogue on the understanding that the final decision on the calendar would be made by the CCR. On this point, the management council expressed itself differently. Yes to dialogue but the responsibility remained with the CCR. In the name of ROPA, Mr Flammini more or less repeated IRTA’s ideas.
* A working group composed of various members of the CCR and the riders’ representative, Sito Pons, was formed to study the problems relating to signals and safety measures. The flags were not always shown in correct fashion, an effort had to be made to train the marshals and there was also talk of preparing video cassettes. Modifications were ratified in terms of stopping the race and a new start (decision taken by the race director). A race could only be stopped once for climatic conditions.
* The commission president indicated that the question of permanent passes was not satisfactory and should be taken over by the FIM “for the current situation is to the detriment of the organisers”. The management council decided that the TTF-1 class would lose its status as a world championship, due to lack of events (this was also the case for endurance).
* At the CCP, a long term calendar was presented for all the finals until 1995. There was even talk of returning to Wembley in 1994. Since Mr Jos Vaessen had become president of the FIM he was replaced as president by the German Günter Sorber.
* Discussions were long and intense within the CT, but another file was also on the technicians’ table: this was the future of the GP 500 class which was causing concern in terms of costs and technology. Mr Michihiko Aika, the CT Japanese delegate, proposed two alternatives: a 3 cylinder 375 engine with a minimum weight of 125 kg; the classes would be called GP3 (125cc), GP2 (250cc) and GP1 (500cc). The CT recommended the CCR to opt for the second alternative which was to increase the minimum weight, introduce intake restrictors, limit the width of the rear rim. The introduction of a twin cylinder 500 implied that a handicap system would have to be adopted. Another proposal introduced a minimum of machines to be produced in each class. The subject would of course have to be reviewed at the Geneva meetings.
* The medical committee studied among other things the accident which had occurred during the 250 race in Hockenheim and the death of Ivan Palazzese. Other riders had been seriously injured during the season (Jeremy Whatley in motocross, Erik Gundersen in speedway) which gave rise to considerations on how to reduce the risks in the sport. A new article was added to the medical code: “Drugs and the use of substances”.
Photos FIM Archives - Caption from top to bottom:
-1 Parisie, 1985
-2 Jacky Vimond, 1985
-3 Michaud-Lejeune, 1986
-4 Dave Thorpe, 1987
-5 Eddie Lawsone, 1987
-6 Nielsen - Pedersen, 1988
-7 Fred Merkel, 1988
-8 Kevin Schwantz, 1988
-9 Tadahiko-Taira - Suzuka, 1988
-10 Herreros, 1988
-11 Jordi Tarres, 1989
-12 Phillip Island, 1989