Prodrive

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For other uses, see Prodrive (disambiguation).
Prodrive
Private
Industry Motorsport
Automotive engineering
Founded 1984
Headquarters Banbury, England
Key people
David Richards (founder and chairman)
Products race and rally car engineering, automotive engineering
Website Prodrive.com

Prodrive is a British motorsport and engineering group based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, England. It designs, constructs and races cars for companies and teams such as Aston Martin, MINI and VW . Its advanced technology division provides design and engineering consultation for various car manufacturers as well as businesses in the defence, aerospace and marine industries.[1] It also has a composite business based in Milton Keynes which manufactures lightweight carbon composite CRFP components for premium car manufacturers and aircraft interiors.

Prodrive became well known for its involvement in the World Rally Championship with the Subaru World Rally Team. While the Subaru World Rally programme ended in 2008, today its motorsport manufacturer programmes include Aston Martin Racing in world sportscar racing, MINI in world rallying, as well as VW in the Chinese Rally Championship.

The company employs around 500 people in the UK at operations in Banbury and Milton Keynes and has a turnover of around £60 million.

History[edit]

Prodrive was founded in 1984 by Ian Parry and David Richards, the latter is now the chairman of the group. Their first involvement in motorsport was with the Rothmans Porsche Rally Team, running a Porsche 911 SC RS for Henri Toivonen at the European Rally Championship and for Saeed Al Hajri in the Middle East Rally Championship. In 1986, Prodrive ran a MG Metro 6R4 in British and Irish rally championships.

In 1987, they expanded into touring cars, running BMWs M3 in the British Touring Car Championship. They were the outright 1988 champions, and class B champions in 1989 and 1990. Since then, Prodrive has run touring car programmes for Alfa Romeo (1995) for Honda (1997-8), for Ford (1999-2000 BTCC champions in 2000) and with Volvo in FIA European Touring Car Championship (ETCC).

In 1990, Prodrive started rallying with Subaru, a relationship which lasted until December 2008, when the global economic downturn forced their withdrawal from World Rallying. During the near 20-year partnership, the team won three drivers' WRC titles for Colin McRae (1995), Richard Burns (2001) and Petter Solberg (2003), as well as three manufacturers' titles (1995,96,97).

In the winter of 1998, the company were approached by Russian oil company Lukoil to enable them to enter motorsports sponsorship. As entries to Formula 3000 were restricted, Richards agreed a deal with family friend Christian Horner that Prodrive would take a 50% stake in Horner's Arden International, in return for Horner retiring from driving and becoming team manager. As a result, Arden signed Viktor Maslov as a driver under the Lukoil deal from 1999.

In 1999, investment group Apax Partners bought 49% of Prodrive. Horner hence exercised the option to buy back the Prodrive stake in Arden. In 2007 Apax sold their investment in the business and in 2008, The Investment Dar company, based in Kuwait, acquired a share of the business.

Proving ground in Warwickshire

In 2000 Prodrive expanded out of its base in Banbury, UK and bought a private proving ground in Warwickshire to house its automotive technology business. In 2001 the company acquired Tickford and merged this automotive engineering business into its own operations. With Tickford came subsidiary businesses in North America and Australia. The businesses in North America were subsequently sold, while in Australia, the Tickford brand was replaced by the new Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) brand. Prodrive sold its 51% stake in Ford Performance Vehicles to Ford Australia in 2012. Prodrive also founded Ford Performance Racing in 2003, entering the V8 Supercar series in Australia after purchasing Glenn Seton Racing. This was sold in January 2013.[2]

In 2001, Prodrive entered sports car racing with its own privately developed Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello. Prodrive raced the car until 2004 winning numerous races in the FIA GT and American Le Mans Series. The highlight for the programme was GTS class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003. The success of this project led to a full works programme with Aston Martin and the creation of Aston Martin Racing in late 2004, a partnership between Prodrive and the British motor manufacturer. The team won on its debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2005 with its new DBR9 GT1 car. Aston Martin Racing subsequently competed in the American Le Mans Series and at Le Mans with the highlights of the programme being two GT1 class victories at Le Mans in 2007 and 2008. In 2009 the team developed a new LMP1 car and won the 2009 Le Mans Series and was fourth at Le Mans and the fastest petrol powered car. This programme continues today with the team competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship with the Vantage GTE.

In December 2001 Prodrive was brought in to manage the unsuccessful Formula One constructor BAR. Richards was appointed as team principal of BAR. Under Prodrive management the team's fortunes were turned around and by the end of the 2004 season, the BAR Honda F1 team was second in the F1 manufacturers' championship. At that point the owners, BAT (British American Tobacco), sold the team to Honda. The Prodrive management contract was ended and Prodrive's managing director Nick Fry assumed the role of team principal. Prodrive has subsequently been linked with Formula One on a number of occasions since (see below for details).

In March 2007 a consortium led by Prodrive chairman David Richards bought British sports car firm Aston Martin from Ford, bringing Aston Martin back into British control. Prodrive has no financial involvement in the deal.[3] Richards was chairman of Aston from 2007 until the end of 2013 when he stepped down. Richards himself is a long-time Aston Martin enthusiast, and owns an extensive collection of both modern and historic models.

World Rally Championship[edit]

Atkinson's WRC Impreza being prepped for Rally Cyprus 2006
The first Prodrive WRC Car from 1997

In 1990, Prodrive began a long-standing and highly successful relationship with Subaru, forming the Subaru World Rally Team. Prodrive was tasked with running Subaru's rallying campaigns, helping them to three Drivers' and three Manufacturers' World Rally Championships (WRC). Starting out with the Subaru Legacy, they achieved minor success in the WRC with regular drivers Colin McRae and Ari Vatanen. The first Subaru victory in the WRC was by McRae in a Legacy during the 1993 Rally New Zealand. The smaller and more agile Impreza became the platform which Prodrive would be most successful within rally. Scotland’s Colin McRae won the 1995 World Rally Championship for drivers, followed later by England’s Richard Burns in 2001 and Norwegian Petter Solberg in 2003. All three championship Subarus were prepared and run by Prodrive.

The distinctive blue with yellow colour scheme was a throwback to the early 1990s sponsorship deal with 555, a BAT cigarette brand popular in Asia.

After a number of years of poor performances, Subaru announced their withdrawal from the WRC at the end of the 2008 season.

On 27 July 2010, it was announced that Prodrive would re-enter the WRC with a limited programme in 2011 with BMW using the MINI Countryman. The MINI WRC Team made its debut at the Italian Rally in Sardinia in 2011. While there is no longer a works team, Prodrive continues to build and run MINIs for customers in the World Rally Championship and national rally series.

In 2014, Prodrive developed a new rally car based on the VW Golf specifically for the Chinese Rally Championship. The car now competes for the FAW VW Rally Team in this series with Prodrive support.

Formula One[edit]

Main article: Prodrive F1
Jacques Villeneuve driving for the then Prodrive-run BAR team at the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2003

Starting in the 2002 season, Prodrive was awarded a five-year management contract to run British American Racing (BAR), with David Richards becoming team principal. BAR owners British American Tobacco and Prodrive had a prior relationship with BAT sponsoring Subaru's World Rally Championship team, operated by Prodrive. The team experienced modest results throughout their first two seasons before finishing second in the Constructors' Championship in 2004, with drivers Jenson Button and Takuma Sato. However, Prodrive's contract was terminated early, following their best season after Honda's purchase of BAR.

On 28 April 2006, Prodrive were officially granted entry to F1 when the FIA announced the list of entrants to the 2008 Formula One World Championship.[4] FIA president Max Mosley was impressed by Prodrive's bid, which beat off stiff competition from the likes of Carlin Motorsport, the Jean Alesi-led McLaren-supported Direxiv outfit, BAR co-founder Craig Pollock, former Minardi owner Paul Stoddart and ex-Jordan Grand Prix team principal, Eddie Jordan. He revealed that Prodrive have found the finances to support their bid, adding: "Prodrive has the best combination of financial backing, technical capability and motorsport experience. Also, Prodrive's chief executive, David Richards, has experience as a Formula One team principal".

Following a legal challenge by Williams to Prodrive's proposed use of a customer car David Richards announced on 23 November 2007 that Prodrive would not be entering Formula One for the 2008 season. Richards made it clear that it was still the intention of Prodrive to enter Formula One. However, following further clarifications of the rules surrounding the use of customer cars, and the resulting ban on the use of customer chassis from the beginning of the 2009 F1 season, the pursuit of an entry via the customer car route has been abandoned. Richards has previously stated that entry as an independent constructor would be prohibitively expensive.

Prodrive boss David Richards was linked to buying out the abandoned Honda team and using it as an output for Prodrive.[5] The attempt was a failure, as Ross Brawn, Nick Fry and the rest of the team's management bought out the team, becoming Brawn GP.

On 23 April 2009, Prodrive issued a press release stating that they were considering an F1 entry for the 2010 season, possibly under the Aston Martin Racing brand.[6][7] On 29 May 2009, it was reported that Prodrive had submitted a formal application for the 2010 season. However, Prodrive was not accepted to the final grid. Prodrive was one of two potential buyers considered by the Renault F1 Team to take-over the team prior to the 2010 season.[8] In April 2010 Prodrive announced it would not apply for the 2011 Formula One season. The slot became available after US F1 Team collapsed.[9]

The Fulcrum[edit]

Prodrive already had a facility at the former RAF Honiley airfield and LucasVarity proving ground near Wroxall, Warwickshire, together with Marcos and TRW.[10]

In March 2006, Prodrive announced its intent to build a £200million, 200-acre (0.8 km2) motorsport facility called The Fulcrum.[11][12] Prodrive's statement in the planning application for the facility – which could house as many as 1,000 staff – boasted of "a motorsport complex which could eventually house Prodrive's new British Prodrive F1 team", further cementing Managing Director Richards' intention to return to F1 in 2008. Until the Honiley factory is operational, Prodrive will remain at their existing Banbury headquarters.

As of 3 August 2006, Prodrive has won the support of the Warwick District Council planning committee for development of The Fulcrum.[13] The permission covers a highly advanced engineering research and development campus, a conference facility called the Catalyst Centre and new access road, a roundabout, infrastructure, parking and landscaping. The plans still have to be presented and agreed by the British government's Department for Communities and Local Government, and there is local opposition via the Fulcrum Prodrive Action Group (FPAG) to protect the rural nature of the community and the safety of the people that live within it.[10]

In 2014 the site was acquired by Jaguar Land Rover.

Advanced Technology[edit]

Prodrive's Advanced Technology business employs around 300 staff works with businesses in the automotive, aerospace, marine and defence sectors. It develops new technologies and systems for clients which include Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Bentley, Airbus Defence & Space and the Land Rover BAR America's Cup team. The company has a carbon composites manufacturing facility in Milton Keynes making lightweight components for premium vehicle manufacturers and the aerospace industry.

Advanced Technology represents about 50% of the Prodrive Group turnover.

Prodrive is working with the Land Rover BAR team to help develop its America's Cup challenger. Prodrive is an Official Technical Supplier and, amongst other areas, has developed the control systems for the foils which help the boat fly.

Other examples of its work include the design and manufacture of the active aero system and the composite bodywork and interior trim for the McLaren P1 supercar; the development of a highly efficient DCDC converter for electric and hybrid cars and the manufacture of the centre consoles for the Range Rover Autobiography Black.

Championship results[edit]

2015
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship T – 2nd (Prodrive Racing Australia)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship D – 1st (Mark Winterbottom)
2014
  • World Endurance Championship GT M – 3rd (Aston Martin Racing)
  • World Endurance Championship GTE Pro T – 3rd (Aston Martin Racing)
  • World Endurance Championship GTE Am T – 1st (Aston Martin Racing)
  • World Endurance Championship GT D – 5th (Darren Turner/Stefan Mucke)
  • World Endurance Championship GTE Am D – 1st (Heinemeier Hansson/Poulsen)
  • Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Pro – 6th (Aston Martin Racing)
  • Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Am – 1st (Aston Martin Racing)
2013
  • World Endurance Championship GT M – 2nd (Aston Martin Racing)
  • World Endurance Championship GTE Pro T – 2nd (Aston Martin Racing)
  • World Endurance Championship GTE Am T – 2nd (Aston Martin Racing)
  • World Endurance Championship GT D – 3rd (Darren Turner/Stefan Mucke)
  • World Endurance Championship GTE Am D – 1st (Stuart Hall/Jamie Campbell-Walter)
  • Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Pro – 3rd (Aston Martin Racing)
  • Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Am – 6th (Aston Martin Racing)
2012
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 11th (Dani Sordo)
  • Le Mans 24 Hours GTE – 3rd (Aston Martin Racing)
  • World Endurance Championship GTE Pro Trophy – 2nd (Aston Martin Racing)
  • World Endurance Championship D – 33rd (Darren Turner/Stefan Mucke)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship T – 2nd (Ford Performance Racing)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship D – 3rd (Mark Winterbottom)
2011
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 8th (Dani Sordo)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship T – 2nd (Ford Performance Racing)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship D – 3rd (Mark Winterbottom)
2010
  • Le Mans 24 Hours – 5th (Aston Martin Racing)
  • Le Mans Series T – 6th (Aston Martin Racing)
  • Le Mans Series D – 15th (Stefan Mucke/Adrian Fernandez/Harold Primat)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship T – 4th (Ford Performance Racing)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship D – 3rd (Mark Winterbottom)
2009
  • Le Mans 24 Hours – 4th (Aston Martin Racing)
  • Le Mans Series T – 1st (Aston Martin Racing)
  • Le Mans Series D – 1st (Stefan Mucke/Jan Charouz/Tomas Enge)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship T – 4th (Ford Performance Racing)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship D – 5th (Mark Winterbottom)
2008
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 3rd (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 5th (Chris Atkinson)
  • Le Mans 24 Hours GT1 – 1st (Aston Martin Racing)
  • Le Mans Series T – 5th (Aston Martin Racing)
  • Le Mans Series D – 9th (Stefan Mucke/Jan Charouz)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship T – 2nd (Ford Performance Racing)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship D – 2nd (Mark Winterbottom)
2007
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 3rd (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 5th (Petter Solberg)
  • Le Mans 24 Hours GT1 – 1st (Aston Martin Racing)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship T – 4th (Ford Performance Racing)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship D – 5th (Mark Winterbottom)
2006
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 3rd (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 6th (Petter Solberg)
  • Le Mans 24 Hours GT1 – 2nd (Aston Martin Racing)
  • American Le Mans Series GT1 – 2nd (Aston Martin Racing)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship T – 2nd (Ford Performance Racing)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship D – 3rd (Mark Winterbottom)
2005
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 4th (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 2nd (Petter Solberg)
  • Le Mans 24 Hours GT1– 3rd (Aston Martin Racing)
  • American Le Mans Series GT1 – 5th (Aston Martin Racing)
  • FIA GT – 5th (Aston Martin Racing)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship T – 8th (Ford Performance Racing)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship D – 9th (Jason Bright)
2004
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 3rd (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 2nd (Petter Solberg)
  • Le Mans 24 Hours GT1 – 3rd (Prodrive Ferrari 550)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship – 15th (Glenn Seton – Ford Performance Racing)
2003
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 3rd (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 1st (Petter Solberg)
  • SCCA ProRally Championship T – 2nd (Subaru Rally Team USA)
  • SCCA ProRally Championship D – 5th (Ramana Lagemann)
  • Le Mans 24 Hours GTS – 1st (Prodrive Ferrari 550)
  • American Le Mans Series GTS M – 2nd (Prodrive Ferrari 550)
  • Australian V8 Supercar Championship – 5th (Craig Lowndes – Ford Performance Racing)
2002
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 3rd (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 2nd (Petter Solberg)
  • SCCA ProRally Championship D – 3rd (Mark Lovell)
  • SCCA ProRally Championship T – 2nd (Subaru Rally Team USA)
  • FIA European Touring Car Championship M – 3rd (Volvo)
  • FIA European Touring Car Championship D – 5th (Rickard Rydell)
  • American Le Mans Series GTS T – 5th (Prodrive Ferrari 550)
2001
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 4th (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 1st (Richard Burns)
  • SCCA ProRally Championship D – 1st (Mark Lovell)
  • SCCA ProRally Championship T – 1st (Subaru Rally Team USA)
  • FIA GT Championship T – 5th (Prodrive Ferrari 550)
2000
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 3rd (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 2nd (Richard Burns)
  • British Touring Car Championship M – 1st (Ford)
  • British Touring Car Championship D – 1st (Alain Menu)
1999
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 2nd (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 2nd (Richard Burns)
  • British Touring Car Championship M – 6th (Ford)
  • British Touring Car Championship D – 11th (Alain Menu)
1998
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 3rd (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 3rd (Colin McRae)
  • British Touring Car Championship M – 4th (Honda)
  • British Touring Car Championship D – 3rd (James Thompson)
1997
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 1st (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 2nd (Colin McRae)
  • FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship M – 1st (Subaru)
  • FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship D – 1st (Kenneth Erikkson)
  • British Touring Car Championship M – 3rd (Honda)
  • British Touring Car Championship D – 5th (James Thompson)
1996
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 1st (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 2nd (Colin McRae)
  • FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship M – 2nd (Subaru)
  • FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship D – 1st (Kenneth Eriksson)
1995
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 1st (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 1st (Colin McRae)
  • FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship – 2nd (Colin McRae)
  • British Touring Car Championship M – 8th (Alfa Romeo)
  • British Touring Car Championship D – 16th (Gabriele Tarquini)
1994
  • FIA World Rally Championship M – 2nd (Subaru)
  • FIA World Rally Championship D – 2nd (Carlos Sainz)
  • FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship – 1st (Possum Bourne)
1993
  • World Rally Championship M – 3rd (Subaru)
  • World Rally Championship D – 5th (Colin McRae)
  • FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship – 1st (Possum Bourne)
  • British Rally Championship – 1st (Richard Burns)
1992
  • World Rally Championship M – 4th (Subaru)
  • World Rally Championship D – 8th (Colin McRae)
  • British Rally Championship – 1st (Colin McRae)
  • British Touring Car Championship – 8th (Tim Sugden)
1991
  • World Rally Championship M – 6th (Subaru)
  • World Rally Championship D – 8th (Markku Alen)
  • British Rally Championship – 1st (Colin McRae)
  • British Touring Car Championship – 4th (Steve Soper)
1990
  • World Rally Championship M – 4th (Subaru)
  • World Rally Championship D – 14th (Possum Bourne)
  • French Rally Championship – 1st (Francois Chatriot)
  • European Rally Championship – 5th (Francois Chatriot)
  • British Touring Car Championship class B – 1st (2nd overall) (Frank Sytner)
1989
  • French Rally Championship – 1st (Francois Chatriot)
  • Belgian Rally Championship – 1st (Marc Duez)
  • European Rally Championship – 9th (Francois Chatriot)
  • British Touring Car Championship class B – 1st (James Weaver) 2nd overall
1988
  • European Rally Championship – 2nd (Patrick Snijers)
  • Belgian Rally Championship – 1st (Patrick Snijers)
  • French Rally Championship – 2nd (Bernard Beguin)
  • Italian Rally Championship – 2nd (Andrea Zanussi)
  • British Touring Car Championship – 1st (Fank Sytner)
1987

French Rally Championship – 2nd (Bernard Beguin)

  • Middle East Rally Championship – 2nd (Saeed Al Hajri)

British Touring Car Championship class B – 3rd (Frank Sytner)

1986
  • Middle East Rally Championship – 4th (Saeed Al Hajri)
  • British Rally Championship – 4th (Jimmy McRae))
  • Irish Tarmac Championship – 2nd (Billy Coleman)
1985
  • Middle East Rally Championship – 1st (Saeed Al Hajri)
  • European Rally Championship – 8th (Bernard Beguin)
  • French Rally Championship – 7th (Bernard Beguin)
  • Irish Tarmac Championship – 4th (Billy Coleman)
1984
  • Middle East Rally Championship – 1st (Saeed Al Hajri)
  • European Rally Championship – 2nd (Henri Toivonen)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Other sources[edit]

  • Cropley, S (November. 9, 2004). Beauty and the beast. Autocar pp. 44–51.
  • Cropley, S (November. 30, 2004). Out, but not down. Autocar pp. 72–73.

External links[edit]