JUNE 24, 1996
Prodrive's F1 ambition?
DAVID RICHARD's Prodrive team is currently in the process of expanding its factory at Banbury, England, and it is not surprising that this has led to intense speculation as to what the space will be used for.
Some stories say Richards intends to begin a major international touring car program; other stories say that Richards is finally getting ready to enter F1 - as he has always wanted to do.
Richards (44) was a top rally co-driver before he established Prodrive. He has since enjoyed considerable success in rallying and touring car racing. For the last three years Prodrive has been running the highly successful 555 Subaru Legacy World Rally Championship team, winning last year's World title with Colin McRae.
Prodrive's long-term aim is to build an engineering R&D business for the motor industry and for motor sport. Competition is central to that philosophy, and just as TWR is now moving into F1, so Prodrive is expected to follow.
The five-year 555 Subaru sponsorship deal was signed in December 1992 and the Legacy program has now more or less run its course.
Fuji Heavy Industries - the parent company of Subaru - may still harbor F1 ambitions, despite a disastrous Grand Prix program in 1990. That was based on a flat 12 engine built by Carlo Chiti's Motori Moderni company in 1989. It was tested by Minardi but at the end of the year a deal was struck for Subaru to buy 51% of Enzo Coloni's Formula 1 team. Bertrand Gachot was hired to drive.
The engine was not a success and in June 1990 Coloni sold his 49% share in the team to Subaru. There were attempts to salvage the project but a month later Fuji Heavy Industries announced it was quitting F1 and sold the team back to Coloni.
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