Jac the Knife in Banbury?

FORD MOTOR COMPANY President Jac Nasser is rumored to have paid a very quiet trip to Banbury, to have a look at the facilities owned by David Richards of Prodrive. Ford sources say that the visit never took place but we have heard several stories about the visit. The suggestion is that Prodrive may be bought out by Ford and that David Richards would run all Ford's motorsport activities. This should not be discounted as Richards has long enjoyed a good relationship with Ford despite a few hiccoughs in recent months. Richards was to have been Ford's representative at Benetton if the Benetton Family had agreed to a deal offered last year. After the deal was rejected Richards left Benetton and has been looking for a new role in Formula 1 ever since.

We have heard speculation that Richards is the owner of a considerable amount of land around his current Prodrive factory at Banbury and that Ford might consider building its planned motorsport "campus" at the Banbury site. There is considerable logic in this. The site is 25 miles from the existing Cosworth facility in Northampton and 30 from the current Stewart Grand╩Prix factory in Milton Keynes. The Prodrive base is located alongside the M40 motorway and there is a major junction nearby. It is less than one hour from London's Heathrow Airport.

In recent months Richards has obviously been up to something as he has bought Galmer Engineering in Bicester and the Lukoil Arden Formula 3000 team. This means that he has a large pool of personnel and machinery which could be used for a Ford program.

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