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EPISODE #31

Rallying all over the world: From Ruthin to World Champion

David Richards CBE
  • Born and raised in Ruthin
  • Oxfordshire, UK
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I was brought up on a small farm outside Ruthin in North Wales and attended the local comprehensive school. At 17 years of age, I started Articles as a Chartered Accountant, travelling each day to Liverpool for the next five years. 

"I still feel my roots are in Wales and those early formative days in rural Denbighshire that created my love for the countryside and a strong bond to my homeland."

It was during this period that I gained an interest in motorsport and started competing in local rallies. On finishing my Articles, I decided to see if I could make a profession out of my hobby and soon found myself contracted to the British Leyland factory team.

Photo: David Richards, Chairman of Prodrive

Inevitably this meant a lot of international travel and my wife, whom I’d met at a Young Farmers’ dance in North Wales, and I moved to Oxfordshire so that I was nearer to Heathrow for all my international travel commitments.

I spent the next eight years competing in rallies all over the world, ultimately winning the World Rally Championship in 1981 as the co-driver to Ari Vatanen in the Ford team.

With a young family I decided it was then time to settle down and start my own team. I started Prodrive, which was initially based at Silverstone, but soon moved to Banbury in Oxfordshire, where we remain to this day. 

Photo: The iconic Rothmans-liveried Escort driven by Ari Vatanen and David Richards, winners of the Acropolis Rally, 1981, World Rally Championship.

Forty years later Prodrive has won events in almost every category of motorsport from rallying to sports car racing, Formula One, touring cars and, more recently, the challenging Dakar rally with our Prodrive Hunter cars which run on Prodrive EcoPower sustainable fuel. I’ve never lost that enthusiasm for motorsport that first captivated me in those early rallies in North Wales and I now Chair the governing body for Motorsport in the UK.

"I spent the next eight years competing in rallies all over the world, ultimately winning the World Rally Championship in 1981 as the co-driver to Ari Vatanen in the Ford team."

Prodrive has expanded way beyond its original beginnings in motorsport and now develops a wide range of technologies across the world of mobility in automotive, marine and aviation. We now employ over 400 staff with annual sales in excess of £75m. 

I still feel my roots are in Wales and those early formative days in rural Denbighshire that created my love for the countryside and a strong bond to my homeland.

Photo: David Richards with Jenson Button when he was team principle of BAR F1 team from 2002-2004

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