David Richards visits Prague with gifts for his drivers
When he walked into the Four Seasons Hotel at the very heart of Prague, cameras started snapping and rolling full throttle. David Richards, who is, among other positions, the head of the Prodrive Company operating the Aston Martin Racing team, came to visit his drivers. With a view of the Prague Castle near Charles Bridge, he told journalists what it is like to work with Charouz Racing System and how he sees the British-Czech project LMP1, and he also made three of his drivers happy. He surprised them with gifts.
First, he apologised for a few minutes of delay: "I have just flown over from the Jordan Rally, which for the first time took place as part of the World Rally Championship, where we are involved with the Subaru Factory Team." And afterwards, following his replies to journalists in the packed hall, he gave Jan Charouz, Tomas Enge and Stefan Mucke models of the Aston Martin Vantage. He added with a wicked grin that this was not all. When he and the Aston Martin Racing factory drivers left the hotel on the embankment of the River Vltava, he gave the drivers the same cars - only this time these were the real things.
"Now this is a shock. But a nice one of course," was Jan Charouz's response. Stefan Mucke was in for yet another surprise. As the young Berliner was familiarising himself with the James Bond car, Antonin Charouz came over to him and said: "Open the trunk, Stefan." Once the silver Aston's trunk clicked open, the German Racer started to laugh heartily - for another gift, he was given a baby seat.
"Tony, thanks a lot, I am very happy, and my girlfriend will be too, just wait when I call her," he thanked Antonin Charouz, under whose colours he has been racing for the second year now. The manager knew that Mucke's girlfriend is pregnant, so he wanted to please his driver with a gift for the baby. "So this is what the fastest newborn in the world will drive," one of the Czech photographers commented.
And this was not very far from truth. As his Charouz Racing System team mates, Stefan Mucke is one of the drivers for the super-fast monsters intended for races such as Le Mans. The most powerful prototypes, which include the brand new LMP1 Coupe with an Aston Martin engine, can drive as fast as 340 km/h. The last time that the viewers could see this was on the TV programme on 1000 km Monza, the second race of the Le Mans Series last Sunday.
"Our company, Prodrive is active in a number of top-rank motoring fields and I am very confident in the LMS project in cooperation with Tony Charouz's team. We are just starting out but you can see now how competitive our car is. I believe that we will gradually grow much stronger, in LMS and in Le Mans 24 Hours, where we will celebrate fifty years from Aston Martin's victory next year," David Richards said.
Whereas the Charouz-Mucke duo defends British/Czech colours in the LMS series, Enge will complete the team for the famous French marathon. This will be a dream come true for him - racing with a sport prototype of the world's top class. "I fell in love with the car during the very first test drive. Driving it is an incredible pleasure. I am looking forward to my favourite race so much more now that I will be allowed to drive this car," says Enge, who received congratulations in Prague for his yesterday's victory in Monza in the LMG1 category. He and team mate Antonio Garcia achieved it, of course, with an Aston Martin DBR9.
David Richards took the floor at last: "Toma has always been one of the biggest stars under our colours. I believe he will follow up on his success with the Aston Martin DBR9 GT now that he will be driving our new prototype," David Richards adds. "We have a strong crew, a strong car and strong background as well."