Prodrive key to Reynard's BAR takeover plans?

Speculation is mounting that a potential buy-out of the Reynard Motorsport group by David Richards' Prodrive operation could pave the way for its founder Adrian Reynard to take control of the British American Racing Formula 1 team

Prodrive key to Reynard's BAR takeover plans?

As revealed in this month's F1 Racing magazine, Reynard, who is a part-owner of BAR along with Craig Pollock and British American Tobacco, heads an eight-man group planning to take a majority share in BAR by buying BAT's stake in the team.

Others in the group include BAR technical director Malcolm Oastler, former team manager Robert Synge and Champ Car team boss Barry Green, who is tipped to take over the running of the Brackley-based squad from Pollock if the bid is successful.

A BAR board meeting will be held on November 1, but at last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, Pollock remained adamant that it would not result in changes to the structure of BAR, or to his position within the organisation.

The group is said to need somewhere in the region of US$100 million to buy BAT's share, but this could be offset by an agreement to run BAT's Lucky Strike branding on the cars for a further season beyond the end of 2001 and the end of the current contract.

According to paddock sources, the remaining money would be raised by the sale of Reynard's majority share in Reynard Motorsports to Prodrive boss Richards for around US$50 million.

Prodrive is the driving force behind Subaru's World Rally Championship programme and Ford's 2000 British Touring Car Championship titles, but also undertakes design and engineering projects for a number of major motor manufacturers. In April, Richards bought International Sportsworld Communicators from Bernie Ecclestone, securing the TV rights to the WRC until 2010.

Purchasing Reynard Motorsport would give Prodrive a major foothold in the USA - Reynard is the dominant chassis-supplier in Champ Cars - and also significantly enhance its engineering and design capabilities.

A further twist to the story is that BAT is being tipped to divert its motorsport sponsorship back to the Subaru WRC squad, which became synonymous with the company's 555 brand during the 1990s.

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