|Estimated value:||€60 million|
|Country of origin:||Germany|
|Source of Wealth:||rally driver|
Walter Röhrl, born March 7, 1947 in Regensburg, is a German racing driver who has competed in world rally and track championships.
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 commercial training at the bishop’s ordinariate in Regensburg. At the age of 16, Röhrl began to work for the commercial manager of a company who, 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 an enthusiastic driver and chauffeur of the commercial director, driving up to 120,000 kilometers a year. Some unconfirmed accounts have stated that he was once the bishop’s driver, but this has been ruled untrue. Now that Röhrl was also active in skiing, he was invited to his first rally in 1968.
In 1968 Röhrl took part in his first race. In the same year he left the office of administrative clerk for real estate of the Regensburg Episcopate of the Roman Catholic Church. Röhrl was one of the best drivers in the World Rally Championship in the 70s and 80s. He won the legendary Monte Carlo Rally four times at the wheel of four different cars. His longtime navigator was Christian Geistdörfer. Röhrl won his first World Rally Championship title in 1980 in a Fiat 131 Abarth. In 1982 he won the second title driving a rear-wheel drive Opel Ascona 400. In the same year, 1982, Röhrl won the title of African Rally Champion.
In 1983 Röhrl switched to the Lancia works team, where he drove the rear-wheel drive Lancia Rally 037. In 1984 he became a driver for the Audi factory team. Although Röhrl only competed in certain stages, which was not typical for leading pilots, he was able to claim 14 victories in the World Cup stages in his career. Röhrl was also a successful ring racer; Nicky Lauda called him “genius behind the wheel”. In 1992, in fog and heavy rain, he maintained a high speed around the track at the “24 Hours of Nürburgring” night race, with which he alternately led. In November 2000 he was awarded the title of “Rally Driver of the Century” in Italy and “Rally Driver of the Millennium” in France. In recent years, Röhrl has been the main test driver for road vehicles at Porsche.
Röhrl was a World Rally Championship favorite in the 1970s and 1980s, winning the Monte Carlo Rally four times with four different brands. His long-time co-driver was Christian Geistdörfer. His Fiat 131 Abarth helped him win the 1980 title, crowned with victory in the San Remo Rally. But what impressed him most was his equal success in 1982, when Röhrl fended off Audi’s audacious four-wheel drive opponent, Michèle Mouton, and captured the title with his increasingly outdated rear-wheel drive Opel Ascona 400. During this time he also won the 1982 African Rally Championship. Shortly after winning the championship, he was fired from the team by team manager Tony Fall. Röhrl had already had heated arguments with Tony Fall over advertising activities for the team sponsor, the tobacco company Rothmans. Röhrl, a strict non-smoker, simply refused to film for Rothman’s commercials, claiming he was hired as a driver, not an actor, and that he could see no point in promoting tobacco as a non-smoker anyway.
In 1983 he moved to Lancia to pilot the new rear-wheel drive Lancia 037 before finally converting his machinery to the all-wheel drive Audi Quattro in 1984, an automobile actually made in his home state of Bavaria.
In 1987, Röhrl set a new record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb when he became the first rider to complete the 19.99 km climb to Pikes Peak in less than 11 minutes. With his 600 hp (440 kW) Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2, he managed the famous American climb in 10 minutes and 47.850 seconds to reach Pikes Peak on what was then a mostly gravel road.
Although he was selective in choosing the top level events (he declined to complete the famous 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland because he dislikes jumps and cars in the air), he completed the RAC Rally in Britain again only after 1979 and the Swedish Rally only twice, although he finished 3rd in 1982. This was at a time when this was uncommon for top drivers in the Championship.
In Italy he was voted “Rally Driver of the Century”. In France in November 2000 he was voted “Rally Driver of the Millennium”. 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 lead test driver for Porsche road cars, notoriously setting fast lap times for testing at the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife, for example with the Porsche Carrera GT.
Röhrl was scheduled to return in 2010 with a Porsche 911 GT3 RS in 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 he last started in 1993.
|Estimated value:||€60 million|