After nearly 20 years of racing abstinence – his hast race was 1991 in Hockenheim – the legendary rally world champion Walter Röhrl is back on the circuit. At the ripe age of 62, he is part of the Porsche team that races the VLN cup at the Nürburgring. In a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The high point of the VLN Cup will be the 24 Hours Nürburgring, the very same that Akio Toyoda regretfully decided to avoid this year due to unfortunate circumstances back home.
For those who want to know, RS stands for “RennSport” or racing sport. In Porsche parlance, it’s a “Kundensportauto.” Meaning, it’s a street-legal race car, Porsche will be glad to sell you one in exchange for €150,000, as Germany’s Die Welt reports. And it’s a hybrid. The one that keeps kinetic energy in a flywheel rather than converting it to current for storage in batteries. If the hybrid 911 GTR RS behaves as advertised, it should result in fewer pit stops, and give it the edge during the 24 hours.
I met the quiet and unassuming Bavarian once when he worked as a test driver for Audi in the late 80s. Someone at VW had pulled some strings and fulfilled me a wish: An inconspicuous black Audi 100 (Audi 5000 in the U.S.) on the outside, at the inside, it was a racing Quattro. It was fun sneaking up on Porsche 911s, especially, when it rained. No unintended acceleration, but is sure had a lot of intended oomph.
Later, Röhrl changed to Porsche, where he still works as a consultant, occasional test driver and racing representative. His career started as the driver of a German official, who was the liaison to the seven catholic bishops of Bavaria. This got Röhrl (wrongfully) the title “driver of the Bishop of Regensburg.”