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Prodrive
Type Private
Founded 1984
Headquarters Banbury, England, United Kingdom
Key people David Richards (founder)
Ian Parry (founder)
Industry Motorsport
Automotive engineering
Subsidiaries Prodrive Thailand
Prodrive Australia
Prodrive China
Website Prodrive.com

Prodrive Ltd. is a British motorsport and automotive engineering group based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, England. 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 Thailand, China and Australia. Turnover in 2005 was £112 million.

Contents

History

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 British Touring Car Championship and with Volvo in FIA European Touring Car Championship (ETCC).

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 selected rounds of FIA GT series and the GTS class of the American Le Mans Series, winning FIA GT rounds at A1-Ring, Jarama and Estoril; and in 2002 American Le Mans Series rounds at Laguna Seca, finishing 2nd at Road Atlanta/Petit Le Mans and 3rd at Miami. In 2002, Prodrive prepared Ferrari 550 Maranello continued to compete in FIA GT by BMS Scuderia Italia, winning rounds at Jarama, Spain; Anderstorp, Sweden; Oschersleben, Germany; and Estoril, Portugal. In 2002 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello qualified in Pole pole position in the GTS class and lead the race comfortably for more than 12 hours, retired at lap 174 due to fire.

In 2003, the Veloqx Prodrive Ferrari team beat the rival Chevrolet Corvette C5R at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race to take the GTS class win, giving Ferrari its first 24 Hours of Le Mans GT win since 1974. The three drivers in the cockpit of the winning #88 Ferrari 550 Maranello were Jamie Davies (GB), Tomas Enge(CZ) and Peter Kox(NL).

In 2003, the Veloqx Prodrive Ferrari team also fought a close battle with Corvette Racing in American Le Mans Series, winning last four rounds (total 9) at Road America, Laguna Seca, Miami and Road Atlanta. Finished 2nd in Team Classifications to Corvette Racing Team by only one point and with driver David Brabham finished 3rd in Driver's Classifications.

In 2003 FIA GT Championship, Prodrive specs Ferrari 550 Maranello was entered by Teams like BMS Scuderia Italia, JMB Racing and Care Racing. BMS Scuderia Italia finished 1st in Team Classifications and JMB Racing and Care Racing finished 3rd and 4th. BMS Scuderia Italia drivers Thomas Biagi and Matteo Bobbi (Car #23) and Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari (Car #22)finished top 4 of Driver's Classifications. Thomas Biagi and Matteo Bobbi (Car #23) won rounds at Barcelona, Magny-Cours, Enna Pergusa, Brno, Donington, and Oschersleben.

In 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans, Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello finished 3rd in GTS Class after two Corvette C5R.

In 2004, Ferrari chose to run the new Ferrari 575 GTC Maranello in American Le Mans Series with Barron Connor Racing at Sebring, but was not competitive.

In 2004 FIA GT Championship, BMS Scuderia Italia and Care Racing were running 3 Ferrari 550 Maranello competed mainly with Ferrari 575 Maranello ran by other teams, new entries like Saleen S7R, Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT, Lister Storm, Chrysler Viper GTS and GTS-R, Maserati MC 12. BMS Scuderia Italia Car #2 drivers Fabrizio Gollin and Luca Cappellari won the Driver’s Championship, Car #1 drivers Matteo Bobbi and Gabriele Gardel are 2nd. BMS Scuderia Italia took 6 victories (out of 11 rounds) and winning the Team Championship.

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 Maranello, 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 American Le Mans Series 12 Hours of Sebring in 2005, the team won the GT1 class with Car #57 and drivers David Brabham/Darren Tuner/Stephane Ortelli beating Corvette Racing factory team. The Prodrive Aston Martin DBR9 also finished 2nd at Petit Le Mans and 3rd at Laguna Seca.

The team competed with Aston Martin DBR9s at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005 and came third to the factory Corvette team.

In 2005 FIA GT Championship, Prodrive Aston Martin DBR9 entered only SIlverstone and Spa, taking one-two at Silverstone and 5th and 6th at Spa 24 hours. In the meantime, Prodrive specs Ferrari 550 Maranello entered by Lambre Competition (Car #11 and #12) took Driver's Championship and finished 3rd in Team Championship after Vitaphone Racing Team and JMB Racing Team, both ran Maserati MC 12.

In 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans, #59 Prodrive Aston Martin DBR9 finished 3rd after two Corvette Racing Corvette C6R. The race also saw Prodrive specs Ferrari 550 Maranello entered by Larbre Competition and BMS Scuderia Italia.

During 2006 season, the Prodrive Aston Martin Racing Team competed full 2006 season in the American Le Mans Series GT1 Class with factory Corvette Team, taking 5 victories at Lime Rock, Salt Lake City, Mosport (Canada), Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, and Laguna Seca. Taking 2nd (Stephane Sarrazin) and 3rd (Tomas Enge) in Driver's Classification and 2nd in Manufacturer's Title after Cheverolet Corvette by only 3 points.

At 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2006, the Aston Martin Racing team was second to the Corvette Racing factory team.

In 2007, the Aston Martin Racing team only raced the Sebring round of the American Le Mans Series, finished 3rd. The team was focusing on its effort for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. At Le Mans, a total of 6 Aston Martin DBR9 entered the famous event by Prodrive Aston Martin Racing, Team Modena, Larbre Competition, and BMS Scuderia Italia. All six cars finished the 24 hour race. Prodrive Aston Martin Racing team finally won the GT1 Class with long time team drivers David Brabham (Wimbleton, Australia), Rickard Rydell (Vallentuna, Sweden) and Darren Tunner (Reading, United Kingdom) in #009 Aston Martin DBR9.

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.[1]. Richards himself is a long-time Aston Martin enthusiast, and owns an extensive collection of both modern and historic models.

At 2009 Super GT season, An Prodrive-made Aston Martin DBR9 in Le Mans specification is used by Team Nova.

World Rally Championship

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. 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 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 is a throwback to the early 1990s sponsorship deal with 555, a BAT cigarette brand popular in Asia.

Prodrive have performed quite poorly in WRC in recent years, with driver Petter Solberg having persistent reliability problems throughout the 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons. A new car was introduced mid-way through the 2008 season, however, at the end of that year, the announcement was made of Subaru's withdrawal from the World Rally Championship.

Formula One

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.[2]

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.

On 23 April 2009, Prodrive issued a press release stating that they were considering an F1 entry for the 2010 season.[3]

On 29 May 2009, it was reported that Prodrive had submitted a formal application for the 2010 season.

Prodrive is one of two potential buyers considered by the Renault F1 Team to take-over the team prior to the 2010 season.[4]

The Fulcrum

Prodrive already had a facility at the former RAF Honiley airfield and LucasVarity proving ground near Wroxall, Warwickshire, together with Marcos and TRW.[5]

In March 2006, Prodrive announced its intent to build a £200million, 200-acre (0.8 km2) motorsport facility called The Fulcrum.[6][7] 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.[8] 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.[5]

Notes

References

  • 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

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