The players and car featured in one of the most memorable world rally championship performances ever will reunite for Targa Tasmania on April 05th.
Exactly 30 years after almost pulling off what would have been one of the greatest world rally championship victories of all time, Walter Rohrl, his co-driver Christian Geistdoerfer and their Porsche 911 SC will come together again for this year’s Tasmanian rally.
Rohrl’s one-off drive in the 911 SC in the 1981 San Remo Rally is regarded by aficionados as one of the greatest drives in the history of the sport. Rohrl and Geistdoerfer were simply not meant to win in their rear-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,” says Rhorl, who will be making his third competitive appearance in Targa Tasmania following outings in 1997 and 2000.
“We were not supposed to be competitive in the San Remo because the stages were very difficult and the all-wheel drive Audi had much better grip and more power than our (Porsche) 911 SC.
“But we pushed and pushed and pushed ... and finally something broke on the car on the final tarmac stages when I thought we were going to win the rally.”
Rohrl and Geistdoerfer went on to win the 1982 World Rally Championship after winning the crown in 1980.
“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,” recalls Rohrl.
“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 Targa (Tasmania) in what will be a very special reunion,” says Rohrl. “I am so looking forward to it.”
Rohr’s 911 SC is one of three Porsches from the company’s museum on wheels participating in the Classic section of this year’s event: The others being the famous 908/02 Spyder (1969 Targa Florio winner) to be driven by museum on wheels curator Klaus Bischof, and the 718 RS 60 Spyder (1960 Targa Florio winner) to be driven by Bernd Ostmann, Editor-in-Chief of Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport magazine.
The historic trio of Porsches will be among more than 40 Porsches entered in this year’s event, a five-day lap of Tasmania covering more than 2,000 kms, including 38 competitive stages totalling over 500 kms.
While the Porsche museum cars will be aiming for honours in the Classic section, road rally expert Jim Richards will be hoping for dry conditions as he guns for an unprecedented ninth Targa Tasmania victory in his brand new 911 GT2 RS.
“I guess for us it’s a bit like Walter (Rohrl) in that San Remo rally,” smiles Richards. “We’ve got an exceptionally good rear-drive car that is pretty close to being a standard road car and we’ll be up against some highly-tuned all-wheel drive cars built to go rallying.”
This year’s Targa Tasmania will be the 20th anniversary of the “lap of Tassie” rally. It starts with a Prologue near Launceston April 05th and finishes in Hobart on April 10th.