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Prost and Reynard

ALAIN PROST and some of his backers met with Adrian Reynard and Reynard Racing Cars managing-director Rick Gorne at the Sheraton Hotel in Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport last Tuesday morning.

Prost is expected to take over the Ligier F1 team shortly and is rumored to have finally managed to get Peugeot to agree to supply him with a non-exclusive supply of V10 engines. The deal, however, will not start until 1998. If Prost is able to put together a competitive operation, however, he may be able to convince Peugeot to let him have the engines on an exclusive basis.

Ligier has its own technical staff and manufacturing facilities in France but Prost may well decide that he does not wish to use them. He has long wanted John Barnard to be involved in his team. Barnard does not want to work in France and as his current Ferrari contract does not expire until August next year, by which time it will be too late for Team Prost to establish a design center and production facility in time for the 1998 season. It could be that Prost has decided to involve Reynard in his plans to get around this problem.

There is no question that Adrian Reynard has F1 ambitions - although he has often said that he only wants to be in F1 if his cars are in a position to win the first event. To do that would need a remarkable package and manufacturer backing. It is conceivable that Prost could supply him with that opportunity.

Reynard was first involved in Grand Prix racing as long ago as 1980, when he race engineered ex-works Williams chassis for John Macdonald's RAM team in the British F1 Championship and in selected Grands Prix. The following year RAM ran March 811 chassis for Derek Daly and, after a poor start to the year, Reynard became the team's chief engineer and reworked the car. It was more successful and RAM found backing from Rothmans for a two-car team in 1982. Reynard designed the March 821 but, denied more control of the operation, he quit in September that year and went back to building his own cars for Formula Ford and later Formula 3. Reynard's F3 car won its first race in the formula.

After dominating F3 Reynard announced in December 1987 that he was planning to enter F1 in 1989. A design study was completed and a prototype built but there was no money to run a team and so the car ended up in Japan, being used for tire testing by Bridgestone and Reynard went into Formula 3000, winning its first race with Johnny Herbert.

In mid-1990 Reynard hired a group of engineers from Benetton - led by Rory Byrne - and announced the intention of entering F1 in 1992. He came close to signing a Yamaha engine deal and when that fell through Reynard sold the entire project - including the Enstone factory - to Benetton. The design became the basis of the B192. Some of the Reynard research data went to Ligier and was used on the Ligier-Renault JS37. Reynard went on to design a car in 1993 for Pacific and in 1994 for DAMS.

In 1994 Reynard entered Indycar racing - winning its first race with Michael Andretti - and has since won the 1995 and 1996 titles and the Indy 500. The company has also been doing consultancy work with several motor manufacturers, notably with the Chrysler Patriot.

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