MOTORSPORT: FPR retains Prodrive technical tie

words - Geoffrey Harris
Ford Performance Racing has belatedly confirmed its change of ownership but it seems many other things remain the same, at least for now.

New owners Nash and French commit to the Ford brand

Ford Performance Racing used the old three days of grace in confirming its change of ownership.

Word that Rod Nash and Rusty French had bought British automotive entrepreneur David Richards’ Prodrive out of FPR seeped out last Friday afternoon but the official announcement of it only came in a press release at 5.40pm eastern Australian summer time Monday.

Most notable in the announcement is that FPR “continues to be part of the Prodrive family”.

It says that FPR’s “strong strategic and technical links with the company (Prodrive) remain unchanged”.

And Richards echoes that point. “We retain our close technical and commercial relationship going forwards,” he says.

Most curious is that little effort has been made in the announcement of this major development in the V8 Supercar scene to leverage FPR’s new long-term major sponsorship from Pepsi.

Rather than a press conference with TV cameras and a backdrop complete with sponsor logos to announce the change of ownership, Pepsi’s involvement only rates a mention in the 17th paragraph of the press release.

And that mention is by Richards rather than FPR or its new owners.

Ford Australia’s “full support” for the change of ownership is declared in the third paragraph.

Long-time team principal Tim Edwards remains in that role and says that “the operation of the team will be unchanged”.

“We welcome Rod and Rusty with open arms,” Edwards says.

“They are two men very committed to ensuring our team continues to be successful.”

Although FPR has not won a V8 Supercar Championship or a Bathurst 1000 in the decade since it was created through a takeover of Glenn Seton
Racing it won 11 races last year, had 11 pole positions and 35 podiums.

Triple Eight Race Engineering won all other 19 championship races with Holden Commodores.

FPR’s Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison finished third and fourth in the series, behind Triple Eight’s Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes.

David Reynolds, in a third FPR Falcon entered by Nash, finished ninth in his first season in a Ford after switching from the Holden side.
Winterbottom, Davison and Reynolds all remain for the new season less than two months away and are to be joined by Alex Davison in a fourth Falcon entered by Charlie Schwerkolt under the ‘Car of the Future’ rules that will see Nissan Altimas and AMG Mercedes-Benz E63s competing against Fords and Holdens.

The FPR announcement says Nash will play a more active role in the team “overseeing and contributing to all aspects of the business”.
Nash says he and long-time racer French “are making a long-term investment in a great local business which allows us to assist with developing all aspects of the team”.

“We are committed to a long and successful future for the Ford brand,” Nash says.

Team principal Edwards says the pair are successful businessmen who are “extremely passionate about racing”.

“I look forward to the fresh approach they can provide us across all facets of the team,” Edwards says.

“Rod will certainly play a more active role, though for our engineers and race crew it will be business as usual as we continue our preparations for the 2013 season.”

Richards says he’s “delighted” to pass Prodrive’s ownership of FPR to Nash and French.

“Rod has been a tremendous partner to the team over many years,” Richards says.

“Last season was the most successful in the 10-year history of FPR and we are pleased to be handing it over in such good competitive and commercial health, reinforced at the end of last year by the announcement of a major new partnership with Pepsi.”

Former world champion rally co-driver Richards who, through Prodrive, took Subaru to WRC titles and other manufacturers to British touring car titles, and separately twice headed Formula One teams, says he has “really enjoyed being part of the Australian V8 scene and developing FPR to the competitive status it enjoys today”.

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Published : Tuesday, 8 January 2013
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