David Richards (racing)
3 June 1952 |
Wales, United Kingdom
|Residence||Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom|
|Occupation||Chairman of Prodrive, Aston Martin and Aston Martin Racing|
|Net worth||$75 million (2012)|
David Pender Richards CBE (born 3 June 1952, Britain) is the chairman of Prodrive and Aston Martin, and a former team principal of the BAR and Benetton Formula One motor racing teams. He lives with his wife, Karen, in Warwickshire and has three children.
Richards grew up in North Wales, attending Brynhyfryd School in Ruthin, Denbighshire. At the age of only 17 years and 3 months he became the then youngest person in Wales to hold a private pilot's licence and was awarded an RAF university scholarship. However, after completing his first year of A-Levels, he left school aged 17 to spend five years studying for his articles as a chartered accountant. It was during this period that he established his early career as a professional rally co-driver winning his first national rally championship with Tony Drummond in 1974.
In 1976, he established his own motorsport consultancy and created a new rally series in the Middle East, before joining the British Leyland factory team, co-driving Tony Pond. In the same year, he married his wife Karen.
The following year he took up the position of team manager for Fiat, before returning to competition with the Ford factory team in 1979. Here he formed a successful and long-standing partnership with the Finnish rally driver, Ari Vatanen. The two won both the British and Scandinavian Championships before going on to win the World Rally Championship in a Ford Escort RS1800 in 1981.
After winning the World Rally Championship he took the decision to retire from active competition and focussed his attention on organising rallies on behalf of Rothmans in the Middle East and setting up his own rally team. In 1984, Richards brought together Rothmans and Porsche and took his next major step in motorsport management, creating Prodrive to engineer and run the newly formed Rothmans Porsche Rally Team in the European and Middle East Rally Championships.
Prodrive early years
In 1984, the Porsche Rothmans Rally Team won the Middle East Rally Championship for three consecutive years and finished runners up in the European Championship in its first year of competition.
Rapid expansion of his new Prodrive company led to a move to a new facility at Banbury, Oxfordshire in 1986 (the current headquarters of this business). The same year, Richards' team ran a privately entered MG Metro 6R4 in the British and Irish rally championships, alongside the Porsche programme. The following year saw Prodrive begin a six-year relationship with BMW in both rallying and touring car racing. His BMW team won three consecutive British Touring Car Championships (BTCC) in 1988, 1989, and 1990, while the BMW rally teams began to dominate tarmac rallying across Europe winning the Belgian and French series with the Group A BMW M3 rally car.
A pivotal meeting with Fuji Heavy Industries at the Safari Rally in 1989, led to the creation of the Subaru World Rally Team (SWRT).
Subaru World Rally Team
Under Richards' direction the team embarked on a programme, initially in the British, and subsequently the Asia-Pacific and World Rally Championships (WRC). It was Richards who, in 1990, saw the raw talent of young driver Colin McRae, and later Richard Burns and Petter Solberg. He personally oversaw the development of their early careers, leading to two British titles for Subaru and McRae in 1991 and 1992, and a further title for Burns in 1993. Drivers such as Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen, Possum Bourne and Tommi Mäkinen all competed for the team.
The team's highlight came in 1995 when the Subaru World Rally Team and Colin McRae achieved the double of the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ World Rally titles. Under Richards' direction, the team went on to win two further Manufacturers’ titles, in 1996 and 1997. Richard Burns and Petter Solberg won further Drivers' titles in 2001 and 2003, respectively.
At the end of 2008, Subaru decided to withdraw from the World Rally Championship.
Prodrive circuit racing
In 1987 Prodrive entered into what was to become a long-standing partnership with BMW in the BTCC. They took the Drivers title three times, from 1988 to 1990 and the Manufacturers title once in 1991. BMW UK ended the partnership with Prodrive at the end of the 1992 season following a disagreement with the championship organisers over planned rule changes (BMW were still represented in 1993 after BMW AG withdrew its Schnitzer Motorsport-run works operation from the German DTM championship, also because of a disagreement with new rules. With few other series to contest in, Schnitzer Motorsport were sent over by BMW to the British championship).
After a year away, Prodrive returned to win the British Touring Car Championship in 1994, with a dominant performance by Gabriele Tarquini driving an Alfa Romeo 155. The 1995 season wasn't to be as successful however, with the Alfa not the dominant force it had been in 1994. Their highest-placed driver, reigning champion Tarquini, finished only 16th in the championship and Alfa Romeo withdrew at the end of the season. In 1997 and 1998 Prodrive ran the Honda Touring Car Team, before working with Ford in 1999 and 2000. After re-engineering the Ford Mondeo, the team won the BTCC title in 2000 with Alain Menu. It was the last year Super Touring Cars would compete in the BTCC.
In 2001, Richards took Prodrive into sports car racing as the team designed a new Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello to compete in the FIA GT championship. This was a privately backed programme, independent from Ferrari. Between 2001 and 2004, ten cars were made and the highlight came in 2003, when the team won the GT1 class at Le Mans against the factory-backed Corvettes. In late 2003, Richards announced that Prodrive had signed an agreement with Aston Martin to take the British sports car manufacturer back into motor racing with the formation of a new team called Aston Martin Racing. The new Aston Martin DBR9 was unvield at Gaydon in late 2004 and first competed at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2005, winning on its debut. The DBR9 won two Le Mans GT1 titles in 2007 and 2008, the latter with the car running in the Gulf Oil livery.
In 2009, the team launched its new LMP1 car, the DBR1/2, which featured a Lola chassis, mated to a modified production-based DBR9 engine. The team won the Le Mans Series in 2009 and finished fourth at Le Mans the same year as the fastest petrol powered car. In September 2010 at Silverstone, Richards unveiled an all-new Aston Martin LMP1 car to compete at Le Mans in 2011.
Prodrive continued to compete in the European Touring Car Championship in 2002 with Volvo and in 2003 launched the Ford Performance Racing team in the Australian V8 Supercar Series, a programme it continues to run today.
In 1997, when Flavio Briatore was fired as Director of the Benetton team, Richards replaced him. However, his tenure only lasted one year, as he could not agree to a long term strategy with the team-owning Benetton family.
When the BAR team was restructuring after the departure of Craig Pollock in 2001, the owners BAT (British American Tobacco) brought in Prodrive to run the team with Richards as its Team Principal. Under his direction there was an improvement in performance, ultimately leading to the team taking second place in the 2004 Constructors' Championship. Richards also brought Jenson Button to the team and made him lead driver providing the majority of their championship points in 2004. This success led to BAT selling a 45% share of the team to Honda in late 2004. With Prodrive having completed its management contract with BAT, Richards stood down as Team Principal and Prodrive's then managing director Nick Fry assumed this role.
His Prodrive company entered a bid to enter a Formula One team from 2008 and on 28 April 2006, Prodrive were officially granted entry when the FIA announced the list of entrants to the 2008 Formula One World Championship. However, on 22 November 2007, he was forced to announce that Prodrive F1 would not be competing in the 2008 Formula One World Championship after a lack of clarity over the legality of 'customer cars' and the threat of possible legal action. In May 2009, Prodrive also placed an entry for the 2010 F1 World Championship, however, all three new entries were given to teams using Cosworth engines, while Prodrive already had an agreement to use Mercedes engines.
World Rally Championship
In 1999, Richards sold 49% of Prodrive to venture capitalist firm, APAX. In 2000 he acquired the television rights to the World Rally Championship with the acquisition of International Sportsworld Communicators (ISC) from Bernie Ecclestone. He has since sold these rights to North One TV.
On 12 March 2007, Richards led a consortium of investors including Investment Dar and Adeem Investment, raising $925 million to finance the purchase of Aston Martin from Ford. Richards subsequently became chairman of the car company.
David Richards is also a major figure in the complex politics of the World Rally Championship and Formula One and is an advocate for measures to reduce the costs of car development as well as increasing safety.
On 16 September 2007 Richards and his wife, Karen, survived a helicopter crash in Essex whilst returning from the 2007 Belgian Grand Prix, less than 24 hours after his former WRC driver, Colin McRae, perished in a similar accident along with his son and two others. Based on Prodrive's statement after the crash, Richards was piloting Prodrive's Eurocopter EC 135. Both Richards and his wife Karen walked away unharmed.
In September 2008, Richards returned to rally co-driving duties when he took part in the Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally, a round of the Scottish Rally Championship centred in Perth in Scotland. He was co-driver once again to Ari Vatanen and they competed in the same Rothmans sponsored Ford Escort RS1800 that they used in 1981. He was one of a number of ex-world champions to take part in the event in memory of McRae, who died in 2007.
In July 2010 it was announced the Richards' Prodrive business would take MINI into the World Rally Championship in 2011, using the new MINI Countryman as its base. Richards was pivotal in the negotiations with the BMW board in Germany to secure the new multi-year contract. The MINI WRC Team will compete in six events in 2011.
At the end of 2012 Richards and his wife acquired the Idle Rocks hotel in St Mawes, Cornwall. After a multi-million pound refurbishment the hotel reopened in the summer of 2013.
University of Warwick: Honorary Degree of Master of Arts
Cranfield School of Management: Honorary Doctor of Science DSc degree.
Coventry University: Honorary Doctor of Technology
University of Wales – Bangor: Honorary Fellowship
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff: Honorary Fellowship
Myerscough College: Honorary Fellowship
Non-executive board member of BGC
Member of Advisory Board, Warwick Business School
Member of Advisory Board, Cranfield School of Management
Director of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust
Chairman of the Tom Pryce Memorial Trust
Trustee of the British Racing Drivers Club Benevolent Fund
Vice-President of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod
Patron of Greenpower Education Trust
Vice-President of BEN
Benefactor of the Starlight Foundation
Benefactor of the Shipston Nursing Home
Benefactor of the Skidz charity
Benefactor of Oxford Children's Hospital
Benefactor of Coventry University Entrepreneurs' Fund
Mentor for the British Dyslexia Association
- , Retrieved 2013-10-10.
- Prodrive.com History http://www.prodrive.com/level3.html?id=53 History
|url=missing title (help). Retrieved 2013-09-26.
- Cropley item (in references)
- "2008 FIA Formula One World Championship Entry List".
- "Prodrive no-go for 2008".
- Recognition for motorsport guru (in references)
- "Rally boss in helicopter escape". BBC News. 16 September 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
- "AAIB investigation into helicopter crash".
- Access date 11-November-2008 "Cranfield University Hon Grad".