Motor racing: FIA head Todt has open road to re-election after Ward pulls out

LONDON (REUTERS) - Jean Todt, the president of world motor sports' governing body, will stand unopposed for re-election next month after rival David Ward announced on Thursday that he was withdrawing his candidacy.

"It has not proved possible for me to secure the required number of regional vice-presidents for sport to ensure the eligibility of my list," Ward wrote in a letter to all International Automobile Federation (FIA) member clubs.

"I, therefore, would like to offer my congratulations to Jean Todt who will secure a second term uncontested..."

The FIA governs Formula One as well as the world rally championship and the election is set for the general assembly meeting on Dec 6 in Paris.

Friday is the deadline for entering a candidate list, with Ward failing to secure the required backing of 26 FIA member clubs and seven vice-presidents for sport.

The 56-year-old Briton was director-general of the FIA's independent foundation for 12 years until he announced in August that he was standing against Frenchman Todt, 67.

"The use of support agreements in advance of the election makes it very hard for any candidate to obtain the required vice-presidents for their list," said Ward in his letter.

"In the FIA's North American region 11 out of the 12 clubs signed an agreement to support Jean Todt in March. This left only one club available to provide a vice-president for my list.

"Clubs from the region that are sympathetic to my candidacy would have to break their previous pledge of support. It is understandable that they have been reluctant to do so."

The FIA groups more than 230 national motoring and sporting organisations in more than 135 countries.

Ward hoped that proposed statute changes would make it easier in future for candidates to mount a presidential challenge.

"According to the senate president Nick Craw: 'The idea of electing Sport V-Ps democratically is not practical'," said Ward. "I strongly disagree with this. It is perfectly practical to be democratic.

"The reason why the FIA leadership finds democracy impractical is that they fear it would be less easy for them to control regions that elect their own leaders.

"The current FIA model is government of the leadership, by the leadership, for the leadership," he added.

Ward had called in his manifesto for greater governance and limiting the president's term to two four-year periods.

Todt, the former Ferrari F1 team principal who has made road safety a priority during his first term in office, was elected in 2009 as successor to Britain's Max Mosley. He has been a low-key presence at F1 races this season.