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Interview: FIM President Jorge Viegas – Part 1

Part one of an exclusive Enduro21 interview with the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme President, Jorge Viegas.

 

The Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) often seems like it is at arm’s length, distant and unconnected to the grass roots of motorcycle sport. But at the recent FIM Conference of Commissions, an annual event for the members of the broad FIM family across the different motorcycle disciplines, sat a table half full of journalists for the first time invited to witness some of the inner workings of this seeming behemoth of an organisation. 

Six journalists in fact representing different sports including MotoGP, MXGP, Rally, Speedway and Enduro who were invited to sit through a plenary session and hear the sporting directors deliver progress reports and plans for the coming seasons – including Bastien Blanchard of the current Enduro and SuperEnduro promoters (who delivered some interesting news is on the horizon about the 2021 SuperEnduro Championship – more on that when it becomes official). 

 
FIM Conference of Commissions 2020 560
 

As part of this event, Enduro21 got the chance to interview the FIM President himself, Jorge Viegas. Bold and on occasion out-spoken, Viegas is a President who has made his mark and has created some controversy expressing his views at times – to his credit he has also opened the doors to the media for the first time. He’s also a fan of enduro it seems and it is not unusual to see him at the races. Indeed he headed up the organisation of two previous ISDEs in Portugal in 1999 and 2009 and was briefly the Director of Enduro during the time it underwent major changes.

Though the interview was all too brief we’ve split into two parts. Viegas is a good talker and our conversation quickly ranged across EnduroGP, ISDE through clubs organising events and naturally to WESS which is where we’ve focus part one. But we began by asking a fundamental question, how important is enduro and where does it fit in the FIM family?

Jorge Viegas: Enduro is the mother, the mother of all disciplines and it remains there. You know because it is there from the beginning, motocross was born out of it, trial developed in a different way after reliability trials but enduro is always there. 

The problem is the mother got old. The off-spring of this mother grew up, got more famous and mother became an old lady – if you see the picture I am building.

Now I think we made a big plastic surgery and the results is that now I think enduro is going up again, to a new level. Obviously we have competition from other ladies that are trying to be more beautiful than our lady but we won’t let it. 

 
FIM Conference of Commissions 2020 family family
 

As you are talking about WESS, how do you feel about the series now, three years down the line?

I was not president when it started but I saw it coming. I was in the board and I said many times we need to do something about this because it was our fault. When we don’t take care of a product there will be other subsidiary products trying to take the place of course. I warned many, many times we were not improving our product. 

So, the WESS started. It is not a new thing because all those events exist for many years and are successful on their own. But they came with a very good promotor with a lot experience, Sport7, and I understand why they did it. They saw an opportunity and they have a big motorcycle group and a big sponsor behind and so they took all that and started a series.

This year they event called it a World Championship and this is unacceptable, I asked them to come and meet because this is not acceptable and I will go into the justice system if needed to protect the good name of the FIM. If it will be called a World Championship it is not true. But anyway, that is past and it doesn’t matter.

I understand that they have a series with a lot of people following it on social media, it’s very popular, the events are good and have a lot of participants and all this but it is not a World Championship.

 

“I know that riders want to come back to the FIM umbrella, because they lost world titles, they are not world champions they do not come to our Gala to be presented with the awards – I spoke with many of them about this.” – Jorge Viegas 

 
  Jorge Viegas Conf of Com 2020 064 Gilles Piel 560
 

What are the big issues you have with WESS?

One thing is if ever they have a big accident it will fall into the image of the KTM Group and this is not good. If ever there is a sporting or disciplinary problem what are they going to do? What authority do you have? 

I also spoke with them about environmental issues because it took 20 years for us to work on having the ecological tyres, the environmental mats at races, sound controls and so on – we live in a world where those things become more and more important if we want to keep our sport. 

Anyway we talked a lot and we thought about different ideas including a mixed championship with EnduroGP, that didn’t work. Then also I was talking with all the other manufacturers and believe me, last year, 2019, I was working a lot to find a solution. 

 

The solution, it seems could be the new Hard Enduro World Championship which lays on the table right now after discussions between the two parties [see our separate post on this proposed new series].

Part two of our interview with the FIM President can be viewed here

 

Photo Credit: Gilles Piel
 
 
 
Byline jp ISDE 2018 Enduro21
Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester
jon.pearson@enduro21.com