Praga Cars UK launches with VIP event at Cheshire HQ and guest driver, ex-stig Ben Collins
- Credit: Phil Hay
June 10 was an exciting day for 114-year-old Czech brand Praga Cars, launching its new global brand centre and official UK arm, Praga Cars UK, located northeast of the world-renowned Oulton Park Circuit.
There it unveiled its 10th and final guest driver as ex Top Gear stig Ben Collins, as well as outlining details of a new Praga Driver Academy, its global dealer expansion and advanced plans for a one-make Praga Cup in 2022.
‘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 before being given the chance to test the R1 at Oulton,’ says Ben, who will partner with Jay Morton in the Praga class of Britcar Endurance.
‘I loved the car – the braking and handling were absolutely fantastic in the wet.
‘I have worked in the military so found it really easy to work with Jay, 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.
‘Who knows what we can get up to together...’
The event, held at Praga's first headquarters outside of its home market, mingled VIP guests with Praga drivers, from experienced racing drivers Abbie Eaton, Jack Faby, Jem Hepworth, Charlie Martin, Gordie Mutch and Miles Lacey to James Walker, who has less real-world racing experience, and race novices YouTube sensation Jimmy Broadbent and former UK Special Forces and two-time Everest summiteer Jay Morton, both of who have recently proven their abilities in the Praga R1 racing car.
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The 700m2 high-spec Cheshire hub, showroom and workshop space will act as a global brand centre for Praga’s real-world motorsport and sim racing operations, housing the company’s five factory Praga R1s as well as a triple-screen motion simulator, unique carbon fibre tables and some of their FIA championship-winning karts...not to mention its 2020 Britcar Endurance Championship trophy.
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."
Managing director Mark Harrison adds: ‘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!’
Praga Cars UK and its UK dealer partner VR Motorsport plan to announce details of their 2022 racing programme in August, with first shakedowns for the cars planned at a dedicated Silverstone test day in November. pragaglobal.com