FEBRUARY 28, 2006
Interesting moves at Prodrive
David Lapworth has left the Subaru World Rally Team, which is run by Prodrive in Banbury, and is now working on "unspecified projects". This has led to speculation that David Richards is finally considering entering Formula 1 with his own team, rather than as a manager for others. Richards has previously run the Benetton and BAR teams but has always had the quiet ambition of using F1 to promote the Prodrive company, particularly now that the firm is looking at producing its own cars, following the recent launch of the Prodrive P2 prototype.
The problem has long been that F1 is too expensive but there are cost-cutting plans afoot (which Richards strongly supports) and there is also the possibility that a current team might become available (notably Renault F1).
Lapworth has no F1 experience but has been in motorsport for 26 years and has worked in rallying and racing.
From Coventry, the centre of the British motor industry, his father being an engine builder at Morris. He was an apprentice at Peugeot (which had taken over Coventry-based Sunbeam by that point) and studied engineering at Leeds University before going to work for the company in engine development. He then transferred to the competition department, which was run by Des O'Dell. This took him into the World Rally Championship with the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus team but in 1982 the competition department was moved to France, renamed Peugeot Talbot Sport and came under the control of Jean Todt, who had been a navigator with the Talbot team. Lapworth was made redundant and in 1984 ended up working with David Richards, who was running a Porsche 911 for Henri Toivonen. He was one of the earliest employees of Prodrive and has remained with the company ever since as an engineer and a manager. He has been one of David Richards's most trusted lieutenants ever since.
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