Exactly 30 years after almost achieving what would have been one of the greatest World Rally Championship victories of all time, Walter Röhrl, his co-driver Christian Geistdörfer and their Porsche 911 SC will be reunited between April 5 – 10, for the 2011 Targa Tasmania, a gruelling road rally held over 2,000km of roads on the island of Tasmania, off the south-east coast of Australia.
Röhrl’s one-off drive in the 911 SC in the 1981 San Remo Rally, in Italy, is regarded by many enthusiasts as one of the greatest drives in the history of the sport. Röhrl and Geistdörfer were simply not meant to win in their rear wheel-drive 911 SC against the more powerful crop of all-wheel drive cars of the era. On twisty, tricky and slippery roads, the combination were within sight of scoring an against-all-odds victory over Michele Mouton in her Audi Quattro before a broken driveshaft forced retirement.
“That 1981 San Remo rally is one of the most memorable for me, for sure,” said Röhrl, who will be making his third competitive appearance in Targa Tasmania following outings in 1997 and 2000.
Röhrl and Geistdörfer are renowned as one of the world’s top rally driver/co-driver pairings, and together won the 1982 World Rally Championship after previously winning the crown in 1980.
“We were not supposed to be competitive in the San Remo because the stages were very difficult and the all-wheel drive cars had much better grip and more power than our Porsche 911 SC,” added Röhrl. “But we pushed and pushed and pushed … but unfortunately something broke on the car on the final stages when I thought we were going to win the rally.”
“We only entered that 911 SC in one rally, the San Remo. It was a last-minute thing. Some engineers at Porsche helped prepare this car for me because I was without a drive,” recalled Röhrl. “Then more than 25 years later, Porsche informs me this fabulous car has been found in somebody’s garage. It has been restored and now we will bring it to the Targa Tasmania in what will be a very special reunion,” says Röhrl. “I am so looking forward to it.”
Röhrl’s famous 911 SC had not raced for 25 years before it was comprehensively restored by the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, and is one of three cars from the company’s ‘Museum on Wheels’ that will be participating in the Classic section of this year’s event: The other iconic sports cars competing alongside are the famous 908/02 Spyder (1969 Targa Florio winner) driven by Museum on Wheels curator Klaus Bischof, and the 718 RS 60 Spyder (1960 Targa Florio winner) driven by journalist Bernd Ostmann.
The historic trio of Porsche sports cars will be among more than 40 examples of the marque entered in this year’s event, a five-day lap of Tasmania which includes 38 competitive stages totalling over 500 kms.
If you would like to follow the progress of Röhrl/Geistdörfer and their fellow Targa Tasmania competitors, then you can do so on-line via the Porsche Origin website http://origin.porsche.com/uk where there will be daily updates and films reporting all the action from the stages and also taking you behind the scenes.
The features have begun with a short film of Walter and Christian reminiscing about their exploits on the 1981 San Remo Rally with the 911 SC. Next up will be an introduction to the 2011 Targa Tasmania from the official ‘Prologue’ to the event, before the teams and drivers begin winding their way through the north of the island.
This year’s Targa Tasmania will be the 20th anniversary of the famous ‘lap of Tassie’ rally. It starts with a Prologue near Launceston April 5 and finishes in Hobart on April 10.