How Prodrive is preparing to assist the UK’s COVID-19 battle

Former top WRC team waiting to hear if it's required to help in ventilator production


The easy way into this story would be to write about British preparation firm Prodrive helping to save the world it stood on top of with Colin McRae 25 years ago.

But that’s not how Prodrive sees it. It’s not interested in gain or glory right now.

In answering the British government’s call to specialist firms who might be able to help out with the production of additional ventilators in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, Prodrive and other UK-based motorsport giants such as McLaren are doing their bit in a global crisis.


The government issued an application form for companies that might be able to help out, and Banbury’s resident World Rally champion was happy to help out.

Prodrive’s cutting-edge ability in areas like hydraulic transmission and active suspension were enough to put Subaru beyond the reach of the best car manufacturers in the world on the WRC stages.

And it’s those same skills that will be applied to any government work that might come Prodrive’s way in the coming weeks and months.

Prodrive’s Ben Sayer told DirtFish: “When we looked at the application form from the government, it was clear we had some ability to help in some of these areas. We haven’t made anything yet, we’ve completed the application form and now we wait to hear if we’re needed.

“One thing is pretty clear – we’re not medical specialists and we’re not in a position to build, from scratch, ventilators.

“What we can do is help in the sub-assembly of parts and help in the process of producing these vital machines.”


Prodrive’s clean room, a dust-free facility usually deployed in producing complex electro-hydraulic parts, would be key if the firm is asked to help produce wiring or hydraulic components by the government.

Engineering director James McGeachie explained: “It’s a clean room because it’s a positive-pressure environment, we’ve got sticky mats outside the isolated doors to pick up contaminants, etc.

“Around us we also have our own manufacturing facilities in terms of fabrication, welding, 3D printing, harness assembly, etc as well own onsite design teams.”

Rallying is a high-pressure sport, with Prodrive used to working to strict time constraints from building a complete car in time to changing damaged parts without incurring penalties on-event.

“We have these facilities and we want to help,” Sayer added. “Time is really of the essence here and I think we’re all fairly well aware that motorsport – and rallying in particular – draws heavily on an ability to get around a table and find a solution to a problem very quickly. That’s what we’re looking to do here.

“We have great engineers and technicians who can turn their hands to almost anything – ventilators is something we think we can help with.”

Words:David Evans