Ben Sulayem makes history in succeeding Todt as FIA chief

The 60-year-old Emirati gained 61.62% of the votes cast compared to 36.62% for his sole rival Britain's Graham Stoker.

Mohammed ben Sulayem. Picture: @Ben_Sulayem/Twitter

PARIS - Mohammed ben Sulayem became the first non-European to be elected president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) on Friday and succeeds the retiring Jean Todt.

The 60-year-old Emirati gained 61.62% of the votes cast compared to 36.62% for his sole rival Britain's Graham Stoker.

The former rally driver replaces Todt, who stands down after 12 years at the helm.

Ben Sulayem, from Dubai, has been campaigning for several months as the non-establishment candidate against Stoker who was Todt's right hand man.

He has vowed to modernise the FIA and make it more transparent.

In his manifesto, he promised an outside audit of the governance, and an evaluation of their finances plus budget reports and transparency over their finances.

Ben Sulayem, 14 times the Middle East rally champion, was supported by his region, which is becoming increasingly influential in motor sport.

The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain already host Grand Prix and will be joined in 2023 by Qatar -- who broke ranks with them to vote for Stoker.

Todt has completed three four-year mandates with the 75-year-old Frenchman and former Ferrari boss proud of his legacy especially in making the sport he believes safer.

He is also pleased with the creation of several other motorsport championships.

"We created the Formula E championship, an endurance world championship with a new elite category, and a rally-raid world championship which begins next year in Dakar," he told AFP.