Richards pledges to help UK rallying recover

Head of UK's motorsport body outlines support for clubs in Britain during COVID-19 difficulties


Motorsport UK chairman David Richards has promised to help local rallying recover from the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to the cancellation of various rallies and championships around the world.

All forms of motorsport in Great Britain and Northern Ireland are officially suspended until June 30, and the situation is continually being reviewed.

The national governing body Motorsport UK has recently announced a support fund of £1 million ($1,250,000) to help its member clubs through financial difficulties they will face over the remainder of the year.

Richards admitted “grassroots motorsport is the real crux of it” and is looking to use this time to improve motorsport’s image across the country.

“As we sit here today, I must admit that most of the focus has been on how we close things down appropriately, how we minimize our costs whether that’s the overheads of Motorsport UK, and how we help the clubs,” he told DirtFish.

“But grassroots motorsport is the real crux of it. That’s how people get together, they’ve built their cars over the winter, that’s their enjoyment, their passion. Finding ways to invigorate that again, and invigorate club motorsport, is key to us.

“The funds we’ve put together, I think at the end of the day if we haven’t used them to help clubs to survive this period, then we might allocate more funds to invigorate things and kick off again in the future. And help promote motorsport in the UK.

“At times like this we can actually do ourselves a great favor,” he added.

“We can either be a sport that hides away and people sort of regard us as environmentally unfriendly and not as a true sport, or we can be part of the community.


“We can help with the community activities and doing things that others perhaps haven’t got facilities to do. We’ve got this great volunteer organization that can support people at these difficult times.”

The marshalling community in the UK is one of the most respected in the world, and serves on world championship rally and rallycross rounds in addition to smaller club meetings.

“We can become more relevant, and in the future I hope to see us doing that more and more,” added Richards. “Because we must make motorsport relevant to make it sustainable for the long term.”

Richards is also the chairman of Prodrive, which ran Subaru’s World Rally Championship effort between 1990 and 2008, and owns a number of hotels, which he is using for support efforts during the lockdown period.

“The hotels are closed down clearly at the moment, as are the restaurants and that side of things,” Richards said.

“One of the hotels is in a small village down in Cornwall, on a sort of peninsula, fairly isolated. We’ve turned over one of the facilities at the hotel, the computer and telephones, to a local support group who can use it to help people who are isolated and help those that can’t get down to the shops themselves.

“We’re just making it available to them, it’s the support group that are doing all the work and doing all the running around and they’re doing an incredibly job for [the] local community here in Cornwall.”