Praga Cars moves into top gear in the UK
Global expansion underway for 114-year-old brand as Praga Cars UK is officially launched
Praga Cars today launches its new global brand centre and official UK arm – Praga Cars UK – with a VIP event at its Cheshire-based headquarters, located northeast of the world-renowned Oulton Park Circuit.
Following a small B2B private reveal in May, the official launch will host several other high-profile announcements, one of which will confirm Praga Cars UK’s tenth and final guest driver and team-mate to Jay Morton in the Praga class of Britcar Endurance – ex-Stig, Ben Collins of Top Gear fame.
Ben Collins said: “I had the great pleasure of being reunited with my old LMP2 race car and not-so-old race partner, Mike Newton, at Praga’s HQ recently before being given the chance to test the R1 at Oulton. I loved the car – the braking and handling were absolutely fantastic in the wet – and was so pleased when Praga then suggested I partner Jay for the season.”
“I have also worked with the military, so found it really easy to work with Jay that day, and having watched his valiant efforts at a soaking wet Snetterton recently in his first-ever serious race, I can see a clear plan for us to really do well this season. Then who knows what we can get up to together…”
Outlines for a new Praga Driver Academy (to strengthen Praga’s UK and global racing programme), global dealer expansion, and advanced plans for a one-make Praga Cup in 2022 will all be integrated into the exclusive launch presentation.
The new high-spec UK hub will act as a global brand centre for Praga’s real-world motorsport and sim racing operations.
The 700m2 state-of-the-art showroom and workshop space houses the company’s five factory Praga R1s – piloted by Praga’s Guest Drivers – along with a top-of-the-range triple-screen motion simulator, unique carbon fibre tables (created by the company’s head of design), some of Praga’s FIA championship-winning karts and of course, the 2020 Britcar Endurance Championship trophy.
During the VIP evening, guests will meet Praga’s carefully selected drivers, drafted in from all corners of the motorsport arena. Ranging from experienced racing drivers Abbie Eaton, Jack Fabby, Jem Hepworth, Charlie Martin, Gordie Mutch and Miles Lacey, to those with comparably less real-world racing experience such as James Walker (Mr JWW), and complete race novices such as YouTube sensation Jimmy Broadbent and former UK Special Forces and two-time Everest summiteer Jay Morton – who have recently proven their abilities in the R1.
The drivers bring national championships and over two million followers across YouTube and Instagram, underscoring Praga’s comprehensive programme of raising the R1’s racing profile and boosting its credibility with fans, drivers and team owners.
The Britcar Endurance Rounds 1 and 2 race-winning achievements of team-mates Fabby and Martin, and Eaton and Mutch, have been complemented by impressive outings from Broadbent, Morton and Walker, proving the R1 to be a capable race car in the hands of experienced drivers yet accessible and competitive for those with less experience of high-downforce machines.
Mark Harrison, Managing Director, Praga Cars UK, commented: “I am really proud to be officially opening the Praga Cars UK HQ and global centre on behalf of the Czech management of our 114-year-old company.”
“Not only does this open a new chapter for the brand, with our first HQ outside of the home markets, but it also gave us the chance to confirm we are on the verge of expanding our dealer network into Europe, North America and Australasia. That managed and controlled international expansion is complemented by advanced discussions to begin a dedicated Praga Cup series in 2022, both within the UK and potentially expanding out to other European race venues.”
“We are looking to offer a race series of between six and ten rounds, as well as an academy programme that will, we believe, engage young drivers looking to race a closed-cockpit, downforce-focused car, and more mature gentleman drivers looking to scratch an aero itch!”
“There are really exciting times ahead for Praga in the UK and abroad, and this new venue will act as a hub for the brand as we grow. Thanks also of course to VR Motorsport for managing all of our racing programme, all the Guest Drivers for coming with us on this journey and to Oakwood Cooperage and Cambridge & Counties Bank for supporting the event – great team-work all round.”
Praga Cars UK, and its UK dealer partner VR Motorsport, plan to announce details of their 2022 racing programme in August, but with ten R1s already on the grid, limited production slots in the Czech assembly facility, and growing demand internationally, demand is likely to exceed supply. A test day is planned on 19th July for interested drivers and teams, with first shakedowns for the 2022 cars planned at a dedicated Silverstone test day in November.