Capital: € 60 million
Age: 73
Born: March 7, 1947
Country of origin: Germany
Source of wealth: Formula 1 driver
Last updated: 2022

Short introduction

Walter Röhrl, born on March 7, 1947 in Regensburg, is a German racing driver who has participated in World Rally and Track Championships.

Early life

Röhrl grew up as the youngest of three children of a stonemason in Regensburg. His parents separated when he was ten years old. From then on he lived with his mother. After graduating from high school, he completed a commercial apprenticeship at the bishop’s office in Regensburg. At the age of 16, Röhrl began working for the commercial manager of a company that, together with 6 other Bavarian bishops, represented the Bishop of Regensburg. In his spare time he went skiing. Over time, he became a trained ski instructor and enthusiastic driver and chauffeur of the commercial director, who covered up to 120,000 kilometers annually. Some unconfirmed reports have stated that he was once the bishop’s driver, but this has been classified as untrue. After Röhrl was now also active in skiing, he was invited to his first rally in 1968.

Career

In 1968 Röhrl took part in his first race. In the same year he left the office of real estate administrator of the Regensburg Episcopate of the Roman Catholic Church. Röhrl was one of the best pilots at the World Rally Championship in the 1970s and 1980s. He won the legendary Monte Carlo Rally four times at the wheel of four different cars. His long-time navigator was Christian Geistdörfer. Röhrl won his first World Rally Championship title in 1980 in the Fiat 131 Abarth. In 1982 he won the second title when he drove an Opel Ascona 400 with rear-wheel drive. In the same year 1982 Röhrl won the African Rally Champion title.

In 1983 Röhrl joined the Lancia factory team, where he drove the rear-wheel drive Lancia Rally 037. In 1984 he became a pilot for the Audi factory team. Although Röhrl only started on certain stages, which was not typical for leading pilots, he was able to achieve 14 victories in his career at the World Cup stages. Röhrl was also a successful ring racer; Nicky Lauda called him “genius behind the wheel”. In 1992, during the night race “Nürburgring 24 Hours”, he maintained a high speed on the track with which he was alternately in the lead in fog and heavy rain. In Italy he was awarded the title “Rally Pilot of the Century” in November 2000, in France the title “Rally Pilot of the Millennium”. Röhrl has been the main test driver for road vehicles at Porsche in recent years.

Röhrl was a favorite of the World Rally Championship in the 1970s and 1980s and won the Monte Carlo Rally four times with four different brands. His long-time co-driver was Christian Geistdörfer. His Fiat 131 Abarth contributed to winning the 1980 title, which was crowned with his victory at the San Remo Rally. But what impressed him most was his equivalent success in 1982, when Röhrl fought off Audi’s bold all-wheel opponent, Michèle Mouton, and won the title with his increasingly outdated rear-wheel drive in the Opel Ascona 400. During this time, he also won the African Rally Championship in 1982. Shortly after winning the championship, he was released by team manager Tony Fall. Röhrl had already had violent arguments with Tony Fall about advertising activities for the team sponsor, the tobacco company Rothmans. As a strict non-smoker, Röhrl simply refused to film for Rothman’s commercials, claiming that he was hired as a driver rather than an actor, and that he couldn’t see any point in promoting tobacco as a non-smoker anyway.

In 1983 he switched to Lancia to pilot the new Lancia 037 with rear-wheel drive, before finally switching his machinery to Audi Quattro all-wheel drive in 1984, an automobile that was actually manufactured in his home state of Bavaria.

In 1987 Röhrl set a new record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb when he was the first rider to cover the 19.99 km mountain route to Pikes Peak in less than 11 minutes. With his 600 hp (440 kW) Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2, he made the famous American climb in 10 minutes and 47.850 seconds to reach Pikes Peak on the road, which was then mostly covered with gravel.

Career highlights

Although he was selective in the selection of top-level events (he refused to do the famous 1000-lake rally in Finland because he doesn’t like jumps and cars in the air), he did the RAC rally in Great Britain only again after 1979 and the Swedish rally only twice, although it took 3rd place in 1982. This was at a time when it was unusual for top drivers in the championship.

In Italy he was voted “Rally Driver of the Century”. In France, he was voted “Rally Driver of the Millennium” in November 2000. A jury of 100 international motorsport experts in Italy voted him “the best rally driver of all time”.

In recent years, he has been named the leading test driver for Porsche road vehicles, who is known to achieve fast lap times for testing on the famous Nürburgring-Nordschleife, for example with the Porsche Carrera GT.

Röhrl should return in 2010 with a Porsche 911 GT3 RS at the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. However, he had to withdraw from the event due to a back injury. It was his first 24-hour race in 17 years since its last start in 1993.

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