David Richards, Prodrive

Chairman of the International Motorsport and Auto Group

by
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

MY BEST...

I was racing with Ford when I won the World Rally Championship in 1981. It was the first time I'd won it, and the conventional thing to do would have been to carry on rallying and make hay out of the win for the next few years.

Instead, I decided to leave rallying and set up a motorsport consultancy, which eventually became Prodrive. When you are rallying, you travel all the time and you fly almost non-stop. I had a young family and I felt it was about time I looked at things differently. Also, rallying can be very constraining. I'd done it for a number of years and I didn't want to keep repeating it over and over. I'd decided earlier that year that I'd stop competing, but then when I won the WRC it was tempting to stay on and make the most of it.

However, I stuck with my decision and I have absolutely no regrets. Prodrive had a turnover of £125 million in 2003. It was a big risk and there are times when I look back and think: how on earth did we manage. But it was worth it.

MY WORST...

In the late 1980s, we were running a very successful rally team and racing team. I was looking for ways to broaden the scope of the business when the opportunity came up to take on a retail car dealership, and I decided to give it a go. At that time, it was a very profitable area and it seemed like a sensible diversification, given our background. We set up a dealership in the Midlands, selling high-performance road cars. But it proved to be a highly regimented environment. I felt hemmed in by the corporate procedures and hierarchy - it wasn't what I'd been used to at Prodrive.

We ran the dealership for two years before we managed to sell it. It actually broke even in the end, but it had all the potential for being a disaster. It also meant that I took my eye off the ball with the main Prodrive business.

I had thought the dealership would be a natural expansion, but it was so inappropriate for us that the experience haunts me even today. The lesson I learnt from it was that you should stick to your knitting.

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