David Richards CBE, FIA World Champion Rally co driver, Chairman of Motorsport UK and motor sport fan, visits the HERO Challenge Two rally
As a former rally competitor himself from grass roots to world championships, David Richards has a keen eye for what works in motor sport. With his experience on all sides from heading up a major engineering company, a world famous sports car company and global motor sports campaigns for manufacturers, David knows about every aspect of the business. He even headed up two F1 teams, one of which, BAR, finished second in the World Constructors Championship in 2004 with Jenson Button driving.
He is currently using all that invaluable experience in his role as Chairman of Motorsport UK, the governing body of motor sport in the United Kingdom. With his team he has set about shaking up the sport and preparing it for the future to ensure motor sport endures.
David was an interested visitor to the HERO Challenge Two when the route took the rally to the British Motor Museum facility at Gaydon on Saturday 5th September. Accompanied by HERO-ERA M.D. Patrick Burke, he spent time talking to competitors, studying the assorted vintage and classic rally cars and then watched them leave the control as crews headed to the next regularity.
In the associated interview, he talks about the work his Motorsport UK team have put into safely re-starting motor sport in the UK ahead of many other sports. He also gives his views on regularity rallying.
David Richards was World Champion co driver, winning the title with Ari Vatanen in 1981 before forming Prodrive which went on to win Middle East and European Rally Championships in France and Belgium. Famously, the company secured the World Rally Championship for drivers with Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg with Subaru, including three Manufacturers titles from 1995 to 1997.
Prodrive also have an enormous amount of experience on the race track, again running extensive campaigns for manufacturers. For BMW they won three consecutive British Touring Car Championships, winning again with Ford in 2000 having also run programmes for Alfa Romeo and Honda.
In 2003, Richards announced a programme of World Sportscar racing with Aston Martin taking them back into racing. Aston Martin Racing still successfully races around the world today in the FIA World Endurance Championship. In 2016 the team won the WEC GT Teams’ and Drivers titles and in 2017 won the GTE class at Le Mans and the WEC GT Am title.
As well as being appointed a CBE for his services to motor sport in 2005 he was inducted to the Motor Sport Hall of Fame in 2017. In addition, he proudly received the Spirit of Le Mans Award from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) in the same year.
A keen pilot, he was the youngest person to hold a private pilots licence aged just 17 years and three months, he was then awarded an RAF university scholarship. He regularly flies his own helicopter today and still likes to get involved in motor sport competition when he can. He has learned about as many different forms of motor sport in the UK as possible by actively taking part in events such as 12 car rallies to help in his role as Motorsport UK Chairman.
He is still a great navigator. Even though he doesn’t have the time to compete as much as he would like, in 2019 he teamed up with Dick Lovett in his open top Frazer Nash BMW 328 to take part in the 2019 HERO-ERA Flying Scotsman. The pair finished a fine fourth overall battling throughout the event with two young guns in another Frazer Nash.