To many, he was one of the most inspirational and eminent engineers in the global car industry. To some, for a while at least, he was a regular competitor on the British rally scene. To Elfyn Evans, he was just Richard.
Richard Parry-Jones was all of the above. As the vice-president of global development, he revolutionized Ford’s European fleet. For seven years he drove a Fiesta ST on British rallies.
Arguably, his biggest achievement in rallying came through Evans. The Welshmen forged an incredible bond, one that lasted until Parry-Jones death on Friday following an accident on his farm.
Evans was quick to pay tribute to Parry-Jones’s influence over his career.
“It’s very fair to say he was key to everything that’s happened in my career,” Evans told DirtFish.
It’s testament to our friendship that, to me, he was just RichardElfyn Evans
“I first got to know him as a fellow competitor in the Fiesta Trophy when I was starting out. He knew my dad, but that was partly because he only lived six miles up the road.
“From 2010, we started to run Richard’s car on the same rallies we were doing. Servicing out of the same van, we really got to know each other well and things just grew from there really. We started to work together on my career and he was pivotal in getting me to the [WRC] Academy in 2012.
“Richard was the key person in getting everything together for me in that season, he just made stuff happen. Would I have managed to have done the Academy that year without him? Who knows, but it would have been very, very much harder.”
"building a supercar is much easier than creating excellence for the millions" Richard Parry-Jones (RIP)
Always customer focused and although a race and rally fan never tempted to play at being team manager. He knew his job and used his talents to do the right thing. #RPJ pic.twitter.com/txDyrwNvFT
— Gerard Quinn (@WRCgerardquinn) April 18, 2021
That 2012 WRC Academy win was the catalyst for Evans’s move into the world championship. He moved to M-Sport and drove with Malcolm Wilson’s team until switching to Toyota at the start of last season.
“Richard was with me throughout all of that time,” said Evans. “When I got demoted in 2015 and then got the drive back in 2016. He was there, always with great advice and unwavering support.”
Evans admits he’s almost lost sight of the bigger part of Parry-Jones’ career. “It’s only when you read the memories and the tributes from people that you really understand and remember just what he did,” he added.
Absolutely shocked of the sad news that Richard Parry-Jones was killed this morning in an incident on his tractor. Richard competed on road & stage rallies, but got to know him when he was a director of Ford Motor Company. My thoughts are with his wife Sarah and his family. RIP
— Nicky Grist (@nickygrist) April 16, 2021
“He was this incredible, massively respected figure in the industry. I think, in some ways, it’s testament to our friendship that, to me, he was just Richard.”
Parry-Jones was a staunch supporter of Ford’s presence in world rallying and, when time allowed, he could be found in a corner of M-Sport’s service park on WRC rounds. Never one to seek the spotlight, Parry-Jones was, as Elfyn so succinctly put it, the man who made things happen.
DirtFish sends its deepest sympathies to his family and friends around the world.