46 (-) David Richards £75m (-)
Last year was an extraordinarily lucky one for David Richards - not because his Prodrive motorsport consultancy continued to perform well propelling him into this year’s Rich List, nor because he became a co-owner of that iconic British marque Aston Martin.
But because he and his wife Karen miraculously survived a helicopter crash in Essex while returning from the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa. The crash was less than 24 hours after his former World Rally Championship driver Colin McRae died in a similar accident in Scotland.
Colin McRae was a close friend of David Richards. Prodrive runs the Subaru entry in the World Rally Championship and Colin McRae was among his drivers, along with Carlos Sainz, Richard Burns and Tommi Makinen.
The early part of the year was better for David Richards. In March he led the consortium which bought Gaydon-based Aston Martin from Ford in a £479 million deal.
Ford needed to off-load Aston Martin as part of its process of selling the family silver to stem massive losses, the scale of which was making MG Rover’s accumulated losses look like small change.
As well as David Richards, the consortium includes Aston Martin enthusiast John Sinders and Kuwaiti investment firms Investment Dar and Adeem Investment.
In addition, Banbury-based Prodrive was given the go ahead by the FIA to enter a team in the 2008 Formula One Grand Prix Championship. However, following protracted negotiations, it now looks like it will be later than the 2008 season before we see a Prodrive F1 team in the championship.
David Richards, aged 55, is well used to the pressures and politics of Formula One, having been in charge of both the Benetton and BAR F1 teams.
He trained as an accountant before beginning his motorsport career as a rally co-driver, partnering Ari Vatanen in a Ford Escort from 1979 until 1981 when the pair won the World Rally Championship.
After retiring from rallying, he founded Prodrive, selling 49 per cent to Apax Partners in 1999. At that time, the business was valued at £150 million. He acquired the television and commercial rights to the World Rally Championship in 2000 when he bought International Sportworld Communicators from Bernie Ecclestone.
He sits on the advisory board of Warwick Business School, is a trustee of the British Racing Drivers’ Club Benevolent Fund and is vice-president of the automotive industry benevolent fund, BEN. He was awarded the CBE in 2005 for services to motorsport.