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New MSA chairman David Richards to outline vision for his role

David Richards

New MSA chairman David Richards will today outline the key challenges British motorsport faces.

The Prodrive founder succeeded Alan Gow at the helm of British Motorsport's governing body late in 2017 and will make his first official address in his new role at the Sid Watkins Lecture of today's Autosport International Show.

As part of his address, Richards will speak about how motorsport can remain relevant at a time when manufacturers are developing autonomous cars, how the trend of declining licence holders can be addressed and what the MSA can do to increase participation and representation of women and ethnic minorities in the sport as part of a wide-ranging speech that seeks to outline how British motorsport can become more sustainable - both in terms of environmentalism and financially.

In addition to setting out the challenges that lie ahead, Richards will also address concerns about the amount of red tape and bureaucracy that blights grassroots motorsport and call for the MSA to take a more commercial outlook to boost its coffers to underwrite the plans to tackle the challenges ahead.

"Change is not going to happen overnight," he told Autosport. "The first thing is to get everyone's alignment in this and understand that this is the vision for the future and that everyone is on board and engaged in that vision.

"Once we've got that we can affect change and things can happen quite quickly.

"There are bound to be those who want to remain as though it's the 1960s - and believe you me my favourite event of the year is the Revival meeting at Goodwood - so I have some sympathy with that, but I don't see that as an exclusion of the vision I'm painting of the future."

To create a more level playing field and control costs in junior karting in the UK, Richards says that an electric karting series is on its way.

He also hinted at an increased presence on social media and in eSports to target new, younger motorsport fans who may not know the path into competing - the number of MSA licence holders has dropped by 10% over the past decade, while entries in grassroots series are down by 15%.

"First we have to look at the resources the MSA has available," he said.

"These are very limited at the moment and I dare say far stretched. But we can't just keep putting our hands in the pockets of licence holders, nor the events in this country.

"We have to look at all the commercial assets it has available, and look into new areas into which it can branch out.

"We can't ignore the fact it is sitting on a very substantial investment fund, which previous generations thought it was appropriate to save for a rainy day or to protect motorsport from some terrible challenge.

"I would say that challenge is here today. I don't think it's unreasonable to say those funds are needed now to bolster the resources of the MSA to create a proper marketing operation, to look at developing the commercial opportunities and taking a different approach."

Richards will be in the role for at least three years and is committed to seeing his vision through.

"I've cleared the decks for this," he added. "I have a great team at Prodrive that works well.

"I've got good managing directors in each part of the company and there's no direct conflict I can see between the activities of Prodrive at a world championship level, and if we can make MSA and motorsport more successful in this country it will benefit us generally.

"I didn't take on this role lightly, it wasn't a moment's decision it was a carefully thought out concept for over a year now and I'm under no illusions that this will take a lot of time and effort over the next few years to get right."

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