Leading motorsport and technology company chief and former World Rally Championship-winning co-driver David Richards is to deliver the 2018 Motorsport Safety Fund’s Watkins Lecture at the Autosport International show.

The Prodrive chairman, who was appointed a CBE for his services to motorsport, will deliver the lecture, named after the late FIA Formula One Safety & Medical Delegate Professor Sid Watkins, less than a fortnight after taking over as chairman of UK motor sport’s governing body, the Motor Sports Association (MSA).

As Chairman of the MSA Board, Richards will be responsible for the overall strategy and direction of the organisation, which represents approximately 30,000 competitors, 10,000 volunteer marshals and officials and 750 clubs.

In addition to being appointed MSA chairman, Richards was last year inducted into the Motorsport Hall of Fame and received the Spirit of Le Mans award from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO).

He joins an elite trio, including Prof Watkins himself and F1 designer Adrian Newey, to be invited to speak at the event twice in its 21-year history.

Richards last spoke at the event in 2002, immediately after the late Richard Burns had secured the World Rally Championship driver’s title for the Subaru World Rally Team, which Richards was running at the time.

David Richards’ first major success in motorsport came in 1974, at the age of 22, when he co-drove Tony Drummond to the British national rally championship.

Two years later, he established his own motorsport consultancy and created a new rally series in the Middle East, before joining the British Leyland factory team as Tony Pond’s co-driver.

After a spell as team manager for Fiat, he returned to competition with Ford, as Ari Vatanen’s co-driver, the duo winning the World Rally Championship in 1981.

Richards founded Prodrive in 1984, since when the company has won six World Rally titles; four British Touring Car Championships; four Le Mans titles; the Le Mans Series; the FIA World Endurance Championship GTE Am Teams’ and Drivers’ title and numerous national rally championship titles.

Prodrive also managed the BAR F1 team for three seasons, taking it to second place in the F1 constructors’ world championship.

In 2007, Richards led a consortium of investors who acquired Aston Martin from Ford, serving as the company’s chairman until four years ago.

Today, Prodrive employs more than 500 staff, focusing on motorsport, advanced technology, composites and bespoke clothing and accessories for leading brands.

The company’s composites business is one of the largest of its kind in the UK, employing 200 people in Milton Keynes, while its advanced technology business employs 100 engineers, working on projects for leading vehicle manufacturers and businesses in the aerospace, defence and marine sectors.

David Richards will deliver the 2018 Watkins Lecture at the Autosport International Show at the NEC in Birmingham on Friday 12 January. The Lecture will start promptly at 11.15am (doors open at 11.00am). Admission is free, but by ticket only – obtainable through the Motorsport Safety Fund website at  https://www.motorsportsafetyfund.com/watkins-lecture-2018.html.


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