FPR saved from oblivion in shock sale
Ford Performance Racing has been rescued from a bleak future with a change of ownership after English owner David Richards sold another chunk of his extensive global portfolio.
In a shock development, Richards, the owner of the British racing and engineering firm Prodrive, has shed the Melbourne-based Ford factory squad, selling out to Rod Nash and Rusty French.
Speedcafe.com understands the squad will make a public announcement on Monday regarding its future direction following the surprise buyout.
Both the FPR team principal Tim Edwards and Nash were approached by Speedcafe.com for comment however neither returned our calls.
It is unclear whether there will be any major changes to team personnel as part of the new regime.
The deal took some time to sort out and until now has managed to be kept secret amid a time of massive change within the V8 Supercars environment.
The custodial change at FPR has now shored up the future of the squad following a period of uncertainty involving the troubled Prodrive operation.
Nash owns the #55 licence with the Bottle-O-backed Ford of David Reynolds running under the FPR banner for the last three seasons while French is a long-time racer and businessman.
The FPR operation which is led by the #5 and #6 Falcons of Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison had been under a cloud following the Prodrive situation for some months.
Forklift businessman Charlie Schwerkolt will take charge of his #18 licence, which had been leased to former partner Dick Johnson for the last two years, which will swell the FPR operation to four cars in 2013 with Alex Davison being handed a third-time lucky V8 Supercar chance.
The FPR ownership switch follows news in August when Ford Australia announced it bought out Prodrive’s 51 per cent stake in the marque’s halo road car division, Ford Performance Vehicles.
Questions were raised then whether or not Prodrive would continue as owners of FPR.
Richards, the former high flying World Rally Championship commercial rights-holder, was at the epicentre of world motor racing for much of the previous decade including stints as team principal at former F1 teams BAR and Benetton.
In 2007 Richards led a consortium that raised almost $1billion to purchase Aston Martin from Ford.
This came four years after Richards’ Prodrive acquired and renamed Ford Performance Racing (registered on February 4, 2003) after purchasing what was previously Glenn Seton Racing.