By on April 4, 2010

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.”

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10 Comments on “Roehrl Roaring Back To Racing...”

  • avatar

    For those who care, Chris Harris (from evo magazine) has been updating his blog as one of the drivers on with Rohrl’s VLN team.

    In car footage:

  • avatar

    I like Walter Roehrl for his bonmots, like, “real good drivers have fly dirt on the side windows”, or, “you can’t treat a car like a human being – a car needs love”.

  • avatar

    I’m an avid follower of Harris… and it’s nice to see him dipping his toes in the deep end of things now…

    Wonder how much speed the old guy still has in him.

  • avatar

    It’s interesting to hear about the flywheel system. Brazil experimented with regenerative flywheel energy storage on city buses. Basically, a large carbon-fiber flywheel on magnetic bearings rotating at high speed in a vacuum container. I’m not sure if it is an efficient energy storage medium or not when compared to batteries. In a race car, I’d be concerned about gyroscopic torque when cornering at high-speed.


  • avatar

    At 62, he’ll be less anachronistic than the 911’s layout.

    It really is time for Porsche to finally acknowledge that the 911 is not the be-all, end-all. While I realize that it’s supporters have still not died/retired, it is rather sad that they do not have the strength of will to acknowledge Butzi’s mistake.

    Yes, the 911 has been campaigned successfully -if you throw enough cubic dollars at a 350 Chevy, it is capable too.

    That doesn’t make it the best though….

    At the end of the day, a Cayman with a fraction of of the money lavished on completely re-doing a 911 will leave the UberBeetle in the dust. Hell, built (not force inducted, just built) 928s have turned in better lap times with privateers at the wheel than 911 GT’s have with factory money and factory pilots.

    The emperor is an embarrassment to everything Porsche is supposed to stand for.

    Bertel, I’m sure you’ve had more late night conversations with Porsche engineers who hate the 911 than I have. (And I’ve had a few…)

  • avatar


    YAWN. You post the same BS in every article referencing porshce or the 911. You sound like a broken record. Maybe its because a 928 rustbucket is more in your budget than a late model carrera.

    • 0 avatar

      Fair enough. I do perhaps over beat the dead horse. I have a vested interest in Porsche remaining a viable entity. The propaganda that the few sales of 911s are somehow what Porsche should stand on going forward is just not in my best interest. Or the best interest of the brand. That, and it’s just not that great a car.

      I would suggest you drive a new 911 Turbo and the TT Panamera back-to-back. Throw a Cayenne Turbo in there for good measure. Do that, and I think you may get where I’m coming from. Especially on bang-for-the-buck.

      As far as 928/944/951/968 and beyond go, they seldom have rust issues. As with any car neglect can pose it’s issues, but rust is seldom one of them on the FE cars. (FWIW, 928s have aluminum front fenders and hood and aluminum door skins. The rest of the car is rather heavily dipped Thyssen steel. Well-executed drip channels and weep holes make it unlikely to rust. Even when left outside for years.)

      Money doesn’t keep me from picking up a new 911 Turbo. The fact that it’s nowhere near what I can build for 30% of that money is.

  • avatar

    Though I haven’t drivebn a Panamera I’ve driven every other current porsche model extensivly. I drove a cayenne S or Turbo every day for years. I’ve owned 2 boxsters and currently have a 2006 Carrera S. I love the 911 and how the current Porsche sports car line tiers out its their best car imo. Its definatly the best all around sports car money can buy.

    • 0 avatar


      If you like it, you like it. I’m not saying that you’re wrong, regardless of my beliefs. At the end of the day, the cars one loves can be highly subjective.

      What I do say, and what has been true for 30+ years, is that the 911 doesn’t sell, and costs a bunch of R&D money to keep on the road.

      In the final analysis, Porsche is a business. I haven’t seen a valid business case for the 911 since 1969-ish.

      Does the 911 really cause people to buy Cayennes, Caymans, Boxsters,. and Panameras?

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