Prodrive Ltd. is a motorsport and automotive engineering group based in Banbury, United Kingdom. It designs, constructs and races cars for companies and teams such as Subaru and Aston Martin. Its Automotive Technology division based in Warwick provides road car design and engineering consultation for various car manufacturers.
Prodrive is perhaps best known for its involvement in the World Rally Championship with the Subaru World Rally Team.
In addition to its British base, the group has activities in Germany, Detroit and California in the United States, Thailand, China and Australia.
Prodrive was founded in 1984 by Ian Parry and David Richards, who is now the chairman of the group. Their first involvement in motor racing was running rally teams for Porsche, MG and BMW, all of whom it had various successes with. In 1987 they expanded into touring cars, running BMW's M3, in the British Touring Car Championship. They were the outright 1988 champions, and class champions in 1989 and 1990. Since then, Prodrive has been almost continuously involved in touring cars, running campaigns for Alfa Romeo, Honda and Ford.
In 1999, investment group Apax Partners bought 49% of the company.
In 2001, Prodrive entered sports car racing with its own privately-developed Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello, which competed in the FIA GT series and the GTS class of the American Le Mans Series. In 2003, the Prodrive team beat the rival Chevrolet Corvette C5R at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race to take the GTS class win.
In May 2001, Prodrive acquired Tickford, a British automotive engineering business based in Milton Keynes. With this business came joint venture operations with Engelhard in Detroit and Ford of Australia in Melbourne Australia.
In 2003 Prodrive bought Glenn Seton Racing and renamed it as Ford Performance Racing for the 2003 Australian V8 Supercar Championship. Prodrive also owned 51% in Ford Performance Vehicles (Ford Australia holds the other 49%).
In December 2001 Prodrive was brought in to manage the unsuccessful Formula One constructor BAR. Richards was appointed as team principal of BAR, but after Honda increased its share in the team in late 2004, Richards was replaced in that role by Prodrive's managing director Nick Fry.
Following its success with the Ferrari 550, Aston Martin and Prodrive created a partnership called Aston Martin Racing. In 2004, Aston Martin Racing unveiled the DBR9 based on the road going DB9. In its first outing at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2005, the team won the GT1 class. The team competed with the cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005 and came third to the factory Corvette team and then during 2006 competed in the American Le Mans Series. At Le Mans in 2006, the Aston Martin Racing team was second to the Corvettes.
In January 2006 Prodrive unveiled a two-seater sports car Prodrive P2.
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.
World Rally ChampionshipEdit
In 1990, Prodrive began a long standing and highly successful relationship with Subaru. Prodrive was tasked with running Subaru's rallying campaigns, helping them to 3 Drivers' and 3 Manufacturers' World Rally Championships. Starting out with the Subaru Legacy, they achieved minor success in the World Rally Championship 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 with in 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 is a throwback to the early 1990's sponsorship deal with 555, a BAT cigarette brand popular in Asia. The Impreza/Prodrive partnership continues to be a major force in World Rallying.
On April 28th, 2006, Prodrive were officially granted entry to F1 when the FIA announced the list of entrants to the 2008 Formula One World Championship. While a total of 22 teams applied for entry, the FIA had always maintained that, for reasons of both safety and practicality, only 12 teams would be granted entry, meaning only 1 new team would line up on the grid in 2008.
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 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."
According to rumours, the Prodrive F1 team will use Mercedes engines and (FIA permitting) the same cars as McLaren. This would, in effect, make the Prodrive team little more than a "B"-team for McLaren/Mercedes to give young, talented drivers a chance in F1, much like Scuderia Toro Rosso is to Red Bull Racing or Super Aguri to Honda.
In March 2006, Prodrive announced its plans for a 200-acre (roughly over 800,000 square meters) motorsport facility called The Fulcrum which will be based at the former Honiley Airfield at Wroxall in Warwickshire, a non-metropolitan county in central England
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 Formula One team," further cementing Richards' intention to return to F1 which he will in 2008, as mentioned above.
Until such time that the Honiley factory is operational, Prodrive will remain in their current location at their Banbury headquarters.
As of August 3, 2006, Prodrive has won the support of the Warwick District Council planning committee for its planned development of The Fulcrum. The permission covers an highly advanced engineering research and development campus, a conference facility called the Catalyst Centre and new access road, a roundabout, infrastructure, parking and landscaping.
All is not final yet, however, as the plans still have to be presented to the British government's new Department for Communities and Local Government, the body which looks after housing, urban regeneration, planning and local government.
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Racing: 550 GTS Maranello · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·
Concept cars: P2 · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·
|Ian Parry and David Richards||Corporate website||independent|
- 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.
- ↑ David Richards heads consortium to buy Aston Martin (Press release). Prodrive. 2007-03-12. http://www.prodrive.com/p_releases.html?id=98.
- ↑ "2008 FIA Formula One World Championship Entry List". http://www.fia.com/mediacentre/Press_Releases/FIA_Sport/2006/April/280406-02.html.
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