Name: Rory Byrne
Designation: Design & Dev. Consultant
Born: Pretoria, South Africa
Birth Date: Jan 10, 1944
Star Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: South African
Marital Status: Married
Profile: Rory first became interested in motor racing while he was a student at University in Johannesburg, firstly as a competitor then later he developed an interest in the technical aspects of the sport. Not many people know that Rory was actually a Chemist before he became involved in motor racing professionally.
In the late 1960’s along with two of his friends, Rory set up a company importing performance car parts into South Africa. Despite having no formal engineering training Rory put to good use his mathematical skills to start designing cars. His first car a Formula Ford racer, was competitive and finished well in the 1972 championship.
In 1972 Rory relocated to Great Britain to pursue a career in racing car design, working for various racing teams up until his introduction to Formula 1 in 1981.
Between 1981 and 1996 when he moved to Ferrari, Rory worked for Hart and then Bennetton where he would meet the young Michael Schumacher who went on to win all 7 of his world championships in cars he had designed.
In 1996 with the announcement that Double World Champion Michael Schumacher was leaving Bennetton to join Ferrari, there was a sense that the Bennetton team were disbanding and Rory decided to retire and start a diving school in Thailand.
With the arrival of Michael Schumacher, Ferrari began work on assembling together a team of engineers that would help return the Scuderia to the top flight of the sport after years of underachieving. Not all was happy within the Ferrari camp most notably Designer John Barnard’s refusal to relocate to Italy was causing all sorts of problems and Ferrari decided to try and lure Rory out of retirement. After lengthy negotiations Rory agreed to join Ferrari and began to build up the design office at Maranello. However it wasn’t until 2000 that finally everything fell into place for the Ferrari Team and the World Constructors’ and World Drivers’ Championships came to the Italian Squad.
Quiet unassuming Rory decided on the day that Ferrari finally won both championships in 2000 to pop into the office at Maranello to check his emails, unaware that he would be recognised. It is understood that Rory got out his car was quickly recognised and was besieged by a legion of happy tifosi wanting to shake his hand and wish him well for helping Ferrari finally return to the top flight. Apparently in the end a police escort had to be arranged to help poor Rory finally get into his office at Maranello that day.
Ferrari went on to win 5 successive World Drivers and World Constructors’ Championships between 2000 and 2004 in cars designed by Rory making him the most successful car designer of the decade, even surpassing rival Adrian Newey.
In 2004, Rory announced his retirement officially as the Car Designer handing over the reins to his apprentice at Ferrari since 1998. Aldo Costa. However, Rory remains at Maranello as the Design and Development Consultant up until 2009.