Walter Rohrl

Born:
7th March 1947 (Age 72)
Regensburg, Bavaria
Nationality:
German
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

One of the great rally drivers of all time, Walter Röhrl was versatile driver who added sports car race wins to his two World Rally Championship titles during the early 1980s.

Early rallying career

A former ski instructor, this tall Bavarian started rallying in 1968 before joining Ford’s factory team for the German Championship. His international break came with a works Opel on the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally. European Champion a year later, he won the 1975 Acropolis Rally with the now out-of-date Opel Ascona.

World Rally Champion and sports car success

A move to Fiat in 1978 confirmed that potential with Röhrl scoring further wins in Greece and Canada. He made his sports car debut in 1979 with a Lancia Beta Monte Carlo and clinched the World Rally Championship for the first time in 1980 – his Fiat 131 Abarth having won the Monte Carlo, Portuguese, Argentine and San Remo rallies.

Röhrl was also part of Lancia’s sports car team that year. He won the Brands Hatch Six Hours with Riccardo Patrese and was placed in the four other rounds he started. A planned switch to Mercedes-Benz for the 1981 WRC was over before it began for the marque withdrew before the start of the season.

However, 1981 did include another sports car success at Silverstone when sharing a Vegla Racing Team Porsche 935 with Harald Grohs and Dieter Schornstein. He also made his debut in the Le Mans 24 Hours that year when seventh overall sharing a works Porsche 924 GT with Jürgen Barth.

Second WRC title and racing in America

He returned to Opel on the 1982 Monte Carlo and won both the rally and that year’s world championship. After three further wins for Lancia in 1983, Röhrl finished his career developing Audi’s four-wheel-drive Quattros.

When the marque entered Trans-Am in 1988, Röhrl was one of its drivers. Twice a race winner that season, he finished ninth in the championship. Team and driver switched to IMSA GTO in 1989 and he won the class at Watkins Glen when sharing an Audi 90 Quattro with Hans-Joachim Stuck.

He retired from the sport in 1990 after driving a Schmidt Motorsport Technik Audi V8 Quattro in the DTM. However, Röhrl made a second and final start at Le Mans in 1993 when his works Porsche 911 Turbo S-LM retired from damage sustained after he crashed into another car during the night.