When Marcus Gronholm drives over the start ramp for Rally Portugal today, it will be 25 years since Prodrive first competed at the 1984 Qatar Rally. Then, a Prodrive-prepared Porsche 911 SC RS, driven by Saeed Al Hajri, won on its debut and went on to bring the Rothmans Porsche Rally Team the Middle East Rally Championship title.
Qatar was the first of 129 rally wins for Prodrive, with victories coming with four different manufacturers in the Porsche 911, the MG 6R4, BMW M3 and for the last two decades with the Subaru Legacy and Impreza.
Prodrive has competed in a round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) every year since 1984, taking its first win at the Tour de Corse in 1987 when Frenchman, Bernard Beguin, drove a Group A BMW M3 to victory. Since then, Prodrive has won three WRC manufacturers' and three drivers' titles, all with Subaru, and has helped turn the likes of Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg into world champions.
In 1987 Prodrive started circuit racing with BMW in the British Touring Car Championship, winning titles in 1988, 1989 and 1990, before taking further titles with Alfa Romeo in 1994 and Ford in 2000. Since 2003, Prodrive has continued touring car racing, this time with the Ford Performance Racing team in the Australian V8 Supercar series.
In recent years, Prodrive has also concentrated on sports car racing, firstly with a privately-backed Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello, which took Le Mans GTS class honours in 2003, and most recently with Aston Martin Racing, with the DBR9 taking GT1 class titles in 2007 and 2008. This weekend the company debuts the new Aston Martin LMP1 car in Barcelona, at the first round of the Le Mans Series, and will head to Le Mans in June to challenge for outright victory in the 24 hour race.
From its origins in a small business unit at Silverstone running the Porsche 911s, Prodrive today is a multinational business employing nearly 800 people in the UK, Australia, Thailand and China. While it roots are in motorsport, more than half the company's £100 million turnover now comes from its activities in the mainstream automotive sector.
Today it is working on programmes ranging from innovative electric and flywheel hybrid technology for future vehicles, to the design and assembly of high performance cars for Ford Australia. Its client base now includes businesses in the aerospace, marine and defence sectors.
© CAPSIS International
Rally-Live.com News/Prodrive 25
heres to many more Prodrive years