Walter Röhrl and Monte Carlo: Untouchable (2/2)

Röhrl, 1980 World Champion but absent from Monaco in 1981, returned to the land of his exploits in early 1982. For the 50th edition, 299 starters await the 750 km long trials and mixed course. Snowy specials are the delight of Michel Mouton and Hannu Mikkola’s revolutionary Audi Quattro, but on rough or dry sections Walter Röhrl and his 255bhp Opel Ascona 400 are diabolical in terms of speed and efficiency. Walter, already untouchable at 44 km of Chartreuse, where he achieved an unattainable record at an average speed of 102.7 km / h, crushed Garcinets, whom the latter charged in 33 seconds at 23 km. At the end of the first stage, he was already more than 1 minute ahead of his teammate, the giant Jochi Kleint. Guy Fréquelin’s Porsche 911SC is third in a battle with the lady from Audi. Then Michel managed an incredible scratch on the snow at Le Moulinet, he got the better of Mikkola and found himself on the provisional podium ahead of Grizzly… Unfortunately, the driver from Grasse went off the road at Pont-des-Miolans. Where Jan Luc Terrier’s Porsche car hosts a festival.

The leader regains control of the Vercors before “cutting” Moulino. In front of the “Remise”, Röhrl puts a huge pie on Mikkola, Fréquelin, Kleint, Thérier et Cie… At 1:26 on January 21, the Opel driver gives Puimichel a final slap in the face. A night show for sports, he no longer had rivals! With a gap of 3 minutes and 24 seconds over Mikkola, the Opel driver can run to 8:17 am and the final stop in Luseram. The 50th Monte Carlo rally celebrates a true master of the road.

At Rallye-Sport we recently celebrated the 1983 edition and Röhrl’s third victory in Monaco. As always, the winner and world champion in the “winter garden” in Moulinon-Antraigues knocked out all his opponents. At Antraigues, the German nevertheless admitted that he completed the mixed special, blaming his excessively soft tires for failing mid-course. Propaganda? I’m not so sure… In any case, the “wizard” adapted as usual, controlled with his fingertips, gracefully, with his head. On almost every track in the world, but more so in Monte Carlo, the innate talent and class of this exceptional driver makes the difference. As with Loeb and Ogier, much later… There is something else. Like the two Frenchmen, the German overtook his opponents in the fog and at night. It is an unmistakable sign. On January 25, 1983, Sebastien Ogier was not yet born. Walter Röhrl won in Puimichel in 4:58am, 14 seconds over Andrueti, 15 seconds over Toivonen, 17 seconds over Guy Fréquelin and above all, 24 seconds over his teammate Alain… 1 second in every kilo! In 2020, Sébastien Ogier won his turn in Puimichel under the headlights.

January 1984. Röhrl – The Last Page of the Monte Carlo Legend. The insatiable “Bavarian Ogre” joins the brand with rings, Audi. Walter has always driven rear wheels and in this 52nd Monte Carlo he will prove once again that he is the elusive champion. His team-mates, drift and full-pass specialists Hannu Mikkola and Stig Blomqvist, will find out the hard way… It won’t be long before the reigning winner gets the size of the Quattro and the two Nordic countries. Another feat for someone who exhausted all qualifiers and all competitors in the snow of Saint-Bonnet-le Froid. This is the 3rd time in piloting, the goldsmith makes a mockery of Stig: 30 seconds at 25 km… At the mythical and famous Moulinon, Röhrl leads Mikkola by 56 seconds and Blomqvist by 1 minute 08… When he admits at the finish, he is still unaware of the exploit. Audi…Intox? I’m not so sure…EIn any case, Röhrl Moulinon at Antraigues, Ardèche, Monte-Carlo, branding our memories and generations of fans, decisively seals his 4th and final victory.

Like Ogier and Loeb, Röhrl was still regularly beaten once in Monaco. For the Bavarian, it was 2nd in 1985 driven by Ari Vatanen in a Quattro-Sport. The following year, the seminarian had to settle for 4th place at the wheel of the terrible Quattro-Sport S1, which suffered from constant engine problems. The Delta S4 and 205 T16E2 are out of reach and Henri Toivonen completes the race of his life. But the Audi driver still wins in Moulinon, the last time… Then he loses 6 minutes due to a puncture in Burzet.

I think that if Röhrl proved almost invulnerable at this rally, it is above all because he liked this unusual event so much. The pilot on the banks of the Danube, I believe, had a love for these lost places, these forgotten places, these empty roads, these villages that escaped the madness of globalization and returned in a few days. the center of the world. In the lands of Monte-Carlo, Walter Röhrl found simplicity, originality, solitude and balance that perfectly suited his personality. There is a connection that goes far beyond just the sports aspect.

Who is the greatest? I don’t know, and in itself it’s not that important. But I can safely say that Röhrl was much more than a pilot. An event, an era, legendary milestones will remain associated with generations of enthusiasts. He will remain the man of the golden age of the Monte Carlo rally. How many spectators, how many enthusiasts or locals remember that, among so many other things, at least once they saw Walter Röhrl driving in the noblest and most prestigious place of the rally, Monte Carlo. To his opponents, Röhrl was untouchable, to some he remains an enigma. To all, he is a living legend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *