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Last Updated: Monday, 12 March 2007, 17:07 GMT
Welsh tycoon set to drive classic
Mr Richards has taken over as non-executive chairman at Aston Martin.

His name is Richards, David Richards.

He is the north Wales millionaire businessman whose consortium is taking over one of the most prestigious marques in motoring - Aston Martin.

The maker of the luxury car, synonymous with James Bond films, is costing a few more noughts than 007 - a deal worth an estimated 480m.

Mr Richards, 54, grew up in Ruthin and became a professional rally co-driver, his interest sparked at the age of 15 while watching the RAC rally in Wales.

He grew up as one of four sons on a farm and was a pupil at Brynhyfryd Comprehensive School.

The one-time accountancy student has had racing in his blood for more than 30 years, both in rallying and Formula One (F1).

Starting as a teenage navigator, he was co-driver with Ari Vatanen when he won the world rally championship in 1981.

This truly is a new era, perhaps a new chapter in the extraordinary story of Aston Martin
David Richards

Mr Richards had already turned to business to fill the gap between races.

He formed his own rally team and then his company Prodrive in 1984, which builds cars, develops automotive technology and manages racing teams.

So far it boasts 200 motorsport wins, including six world rally titles with Subaru.

The DBR9 at Le Mans in 2006. Photo: Prodrive
Prodrive has been running Aston Martins in motor sport for four years

Mr Richards was boss of the BAR Honda F1 team, which finished runner-up in the constructors' championship in 2004. He now has his sights on returning to F1 in 2008 with his own team.

Enjoying a little of the Bond lifestyle himself, Mr Richards has a pad outside his Oxfordshire company HQ for his helicopter, which he pilots to work. His office desk is made out of an aircraft wing-tip.

The Sunday Times "rich list" estimates his fortune at 68m and he was awarded a CBE in 2005. Although, inevitably, he drives an Aston Martin, the Richards collection includes slightly less glamorous Morris Minor Traveller.

'Passion'

Prodrive has performed more of a Q than 007 role with the sports version of Aston Martin already. It has designed, developed and run a GT racing version of its DB9 car, which has competed at Le Mans, where it came second last year.

Owners Ford put up Aston Martin for sale as part of its worldwide restructuring. But the company, based in Mr Richards' adopted county of Warwickshire, is on a firm financial footing after a chequered history over 93 years.

Mr Richards may love speed, but he is a careful driver of his business.

He once said: "Accountancy taught me to be prudent and racing is all about taking things to the limit."

There was a similar mix when he spoke of his "passion" for the car.

"This truly is a new era, perhaps a new chapter in the extraordinary story of Aston Martin.

"The car industry and the car business requires long-term investment," he said.

"You cannot come in and out in a few years."


SEE ALSO
In pictures: History of Aston Martin
09 Mar 07 |  In Pictures
Aston Martin sold to UK-led group
12 Mar 07 |  Business
Prodrive among 22 F1 applicants
31 Mar 06 |  Formula One
Aston Martin 'on brink of sale'
09 Mar 07 |  Business
Aston Martin sell-off 'good move'
17 Sep 06 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
BAR boss Richards ousted in deal
19 Nov 04 |  Formula One

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