Walter Röhrl

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Walter Röhrl
Walter Roehrl 2012.jpg
Röhrl at Retro Classics Stuttgart, Germany 2012-03-23
Personal information
Nationality Germany German
Born (1947-03-07) 7 March 1947 (age 67)
Regensburg
World Rally Championship record
Active years 1973–1987
Teams Porsche, Fiat, Opel, Lancia, Audi
Rallies 75
Championships 2 (1980, 1982)
Rally wins 14
Podiums 31
Stage wins 420
Total points 494
First rally 1973 Monte Carlo Rally
First win 1975 Acropolis Rally
Last win 1985 San Remo Rally
Last rally 1987 Acropolis Rally

Walter Röhrl (born 7 March 1947 in Regensburg) is a German rally and auto racing driver, with victories for Fiat, Opel, Lancia and Audi as well as Porsche, Ford and BMW.

Career[edit]

Röhrl grew up as the youngest of three children of a stonemason on in Regensburg. His parents separated when Walter Röhrl was ten years old. From then on he lived with his mother. After leaving school he completed a commercial education at Bishop's Ordinariate Regensburg.[1] At the age of 16, Röhrl began working for the commercial director of a company that legally represented the Bishop of Regensburg along with 6 further Bishops in Bavaria, and skied in his spare time. In time he became a qualified ski instructor and a keen driver, and became the chauffeur to the commercial director, covering up to 120,000 kilometres annually. Some unqualified reports have stated he was once the Bishop's own driver, but this has been acknowledged as untrue. Having also now been active in sports like skiing, Röhrl was invited to drive his first rally in 1968.

Röhrl was a World Rally Championship favorite throughout the 1970s and 1980s, winning the Monte Carlo Rally four times with four different marques. His co-driver for many years was Christian Geistdörfer. His Fiat 131 Abarth carried him to the 1980 title, clinched with his victory in that year's San Remo rally, but it was arguably his equivalent success in 1982 that impressed most of all, with Röhrl fending off audacious four-wheel drive opposition, led by Audi's resurgent Michèle Mouton, to take the title, by virtue of consistency, in his increasingly outmoded rear-drive Opel Ascona 400. It was also during this time that he won the African Rally Championship, in 1982.[2] Shortly after winning the championship however he was fired from the team by team manager Tony Fall due to the fact he disliked competing in the RAC rally (the rally in which he had little success in).[3][4] Röhrl already had had severe arguments with Tony Fall about publicity activities for the team sponsor, tobacco company Rothmans. Röhrl as a strict nonsmoker simply refused to do any filming for Rothmans publicity spots, claiming that he had been hired as a driver, not an actor and that he could not see any sense in making tobacco marketing as a nonsmoker anyway [5]

Audi S1 Pikes Peak

In 1983, he joined Lancia to pilot the new, rear-wheel drive Lancia 037, before finally changing his machinery, in 1984, to the four-wheel drive Audi Quattro, an automobile actually incidentally produced in his home state of Bavaria.

In 1987 Röhrl set up a new record in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb being the first driver to cover the 14.42 miles (19.99 km)-long mountain track to the Pikes Peak in less than 11 minutes. In his 600 hp (440 kW) Audi Sport quattro S1 it took him only 10:47.850[6] minutes to reach Pikes Peak on the road which at that time was mainly covered with gravel.

Despite being selective in his choice of top-level events, albeit during a time when this was a less unusual occurrence for top-line drivers in the championship, he still scored 14 WRC victories in his career.

Röhrl was also successful in road racing events, and called "Genius on Wheels" by Niki Lauda. In the 1992 24 Hours Nürburgring race which saw fog and heavy rain in the night, he hardly slowed down, anticipating the corners by timing. The race was nevertheless interrupted for hours.

In Italy, he was elected "Rallye driver of the century". In France he was elected "Rallye driver of the millennium" in November 2000. A jury out of 100 worldwide motorsports experts elected him "Best Rallye driver ever" in Italy.

In recent years, he has been retained as the senior test driver for Porsche road cars, famously setting quick laptimes for them testing round the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife, for example with the Porsche Carrera GT.

Röhrl was expected to make his competitive return to the Nürburgring 24 hour race in 2010 at the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. However, he was forced to withdraw from the event due to a back injury.[7] It was to be his first 24 hour race in 17 years, since his last start in 1993. In 2011, Röhrl was inducted into the Rally Hall of Fame along with Hannu Mikkola.[8]

Complete WRC results[edit]

Year Entrant Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 WDC Points
1973 Irmscher Tuning Opel Commodore GS/E MON
45
SWE POR KEN MOR GRE POL FIN N/A N/A
Opel Ascona AUT
Ret
ITA USA GBR
Ret
FRA
1974 Opel Euro Händler Team Opel Ascona MON
C
SWE
C
POR
Ret
KEN GRE
C
FIN ITA CAN USA GBR
6
FRA N/A N/A
1975 Opel Euro Händler Team Opel Ascona MON
Ret
SWE KEN GRE
1
MOR
Ret
POR
Ret
FIN N/A N/A
Opel Kadett GT/E ITA
Ret
FRA GBR
Ret
1976 Opel Euro Händler Team Opel Kadett GT/E MON
4
SWE POR
Ret
KEN
Ret
GRE MOR FIN ITA
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
N/A N/A
1977 Opel Euro Händler Team Opel Kadett GT/E MON
Ret
SWE POR KEN NZL GRE
Ret
FIN GBR
Ret
NC 0
Fiat S.p.A. Fiat 131 Abarth CAN
Ret
ITA
Ret
FRA
1978 Alitalia Fiat Fiat 131 Abarth MON
4
SWE KEN POR
Ret
GRE
1
FIN CAN
1
ITA
Ret
CIV FRA GBR
6
6th 13
1979 Alitalia Fiat Fiat 131 Abarth MON
Ret
SWE POR KEN
8
GRE NZL FIN CAN ITA
2
FRA GBR
8
CIV 9th 21
1980 Fiat Italia Fiat 131 Abarth MON
1
SWE POR
1
KEN GRE
5
ARG
1
FIN NZL
2
FRA
2
GBR CIV 1st 118
Jolly Club ITA
1
1981 Eminence Porsche 911 SC MON SWE POR KEN FRA GRE ARG BRA FIN ITA
Ret
CIV GBR NC 0
1982 Rothmans Opel Rally Team Opel Ascona 400 MON
1
SWE
3
POR
Ret
KEN
2
FRA
4
GRE
2
NZL
3
BRA
2
FIN ITA
3
CIV
1
GBR 1st 109
1983 Martini Racing Lancia 037 Rally MON
1
SWE POR
3
KEN FRA
2
GRE
1
NZL
1
ARG FIN ITA
2
CIV GBR 2nd 102
1984 Audi Sport Audi Quattro A2 MON
1
SWE POR
6
KEN NZL
Ret
ARG FIN 11th 26
Audi Sport Quattro FRA
Ret
GRE
Ret
ITA
Ret
CIV GBR
1985 Audi Sport Audi Sport Quattro MON
2
SWE
Ret
POR KEN FRA
Ret
GRE
Ret
NZL
3
ARG FIN 3rd 59
Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 ITA
1
CIV GBR
Ret
1986 Audi Sport Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 MON
4
SWE POR
Ret
KEN FRA GRE NZL ARG FIN CIV ITA GBR USA 22nd 10
1987 Audi Sport Audi 200 Quattro MON
3
SWE POR KEN
2
FRA GRE
Ret
USA NZL ARG FIN CIV ITA GBR 11th 27

WRC victories[edit]

 #  Event Season Co-driver Car
1 Greece22nd Acropolis Rally 1975 GermanyJochen Berger Opel Ascona
2 Greece25th Acropolis Rally 1978 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Fiat 131 Abarth
3 Canada Critérium du Québec 1978 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Fiat 131 Abarth
4 Monaco 48th Rally Monte Carlo 1980 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Fiat 131 Abarth
5 Portugal 14th Rally Portugal 1980 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Fiat 131 Abarth
6 Argentina 1st Rally Argentina 1980 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Fiat 131 Abarth
7 Italy 22nd Rally Sanremo 1980 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Fiat 131 Abarth
8 Monaco 50th Rally Monte Carlo 1982 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Opel Ascona 400
9 Ivory Coast 14th Rallye Côte d'Ivoire 1982 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Opel Ascona 400
10 Monaco 51st Rally Monte Carlo 1983 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Lancia 037 Rally
11 Greece30th Acropolis Rally 1983 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Lancia 037 Rally
12 New Zealand 13th Rally New Zealand 1983 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Lancia 037 Rally
13 Monaco 52nd Rally Monte Carlo 1984 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Audi Quattro A2
14 Italy 27th Rally Sanremo 1985 GermanyChristian Geistdörfer Audi Quattro Sport S1

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Sandro Munari
European Rally Champion
1974
Succeeded by
Maurizio Verini
Preceded by
Björn Waldegård
World Rally Champion
1980
Succeeded by
Ari Vatanen
Preceded by
Ari Vatanen
World Rally Champion
1982
Succeeded by
Hannu Mikkola
Preceded by
Shekhar Mehta
African Rally Champion
1982
Succeeded by
Alain Ambrosino
Preceded by
Marc Duez
Race of Champions
Classic Master

1997
Succeeded by
Miki Biasion
Records
Preceded by
Björn Waldegård
36 years, 32 days
(1979 season)
Youngest World Rally Champion
33 years, 232 days
(1980 season)
Succeeded by
Ari Vatanen
29 years, 212 days
(1981 season)