• Apr 6th 2011 at 6:31PM
  • 7
Walter Röhrl and Christian Geistdörfer with their 1981 Porsche 911 SC – Click above for high-res image gallery

Thirty years ago, Walter Röhrl and his co-driver Christian Geistdörfer very nearly won the San Remo Rally, after a comeback that would have been one for the ages. Röhrl and Geistdörfer were up against a field of faster, more powerful four-wheel-drive cars in their rear-wheel-drive Porsche 911 SC, and somehow managed to pull within an eyelash of victory.

Unfortunately, a broken driveshaft forced the pair to retire, leaving Michele Mouton's Audi Quattro to run away with the race. Now, exactly thirty years after their heartbreak in San Remo, Röhrl and Geistdorfer are back in their 911 SC for the five-day, 2000-km Targa Tasmania. The rally starts today, and you can follow Röhrl and Geistdörfer's progress here at Porsche UK.

The car that Röhrl drove in the 1981 San Remo rally was thrown together last minute because he was without a drive until just before the start of the race. The ill-fated San Remo run was the car's only outing in professional competition. For this year's Targa Tasmania, the car was found in a garage and restored to its 1981 competition specification.

Rohrl-Gesitdorfer Porsche 911 SC
  • Rohrl-Gesitdorfer Porsche 911 SC
  • Rohrl-Gesitdorfer Porsche 911 SC

  • Rohrl-Gesitdorfer Porsche 911 SC
  • Rohrl-Gesitdorfer Porsche 911 SC

  • Rohrl-Gesitdorfer Porsche 911 SC
  • Rohrl-Gesitdorfer Porsche 911 SC

[Source: Porsche]
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* Double World Rally Champion driver Walter Röhrl and his long-standing co-driver, Christian Geistdörfer, and their Porsche 911 come together again for Targa Tasmania, April 5 - 10
* Rohrl is behind the wheel of the same Porsche 911 SC in which he and Geistdörfer nearly scored a stunning victory exactly 30 years ago in the 1981 San Remo Rally
* Log on to http://origin.porsche.com/uk and follow the progress of the famous Röhrl/Geistdörfer pairing as they tackle the five day, 2,000 km Targa Tasmania
* Famous 908/02 Spyder and 718 RS 60 Spyder from the Porsche 'Museum on Wheels' in Stuttgart will be in action alongside the 911 SC

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 Geistdörferand 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 aficionados as one of the greatest drives in the history of the sport. RöhrlandGeistdörferwere 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.

RöhrlandGeistdörferare renowned as one of the world's top rally driver/co-driver pairings, and together won the 1982 World Rally Championship after 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," addedRöhrl. "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," recalledRöhrl. "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."

The famous Porsche 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.

Fans can follow the progress of RöhrlandGeistdörferand their fellow Targa Tasmania competitors 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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      danm what a sweet beast and is goingo to race i hope it kick some asses old school cars rocks lml
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      As much as i like Porsche, Audi was King back in the days.
      The S1 will forever be the ultimate rallye monster!

      btw, the vid to the story:

        • 4 Years Ago
        meh. if i remember the story correctly, he was supposed to drive a works prepped mercedes 450 SLC that year, but at the last moment mercedes decided to get cold feet and keep on being in racing hibernation (until a few years later, sauber all but shamed them back into embracing racing again, but thats another story.)

        he drove a few rallys with a privately prepped porsche because at the time his deal went south, all the works teams were set. the next year he signed on with opel, and won the WRC championship with the RWD ascona (which, frankly, was a crap car at that point in time -- making his win just that much more impressive.)

        next stop was a return to fiat/lancia (he'd won his first WC in '79 - i think - with a fiat 131 abarth, which wouldn't be all that bad unless you consider that this was the vehicle cesare florio & co. put into the field to more or less succeed the lancia stratos...ech), where he drove the RWD (and achingly beautiful) lancia 037 rally for a few years.

        by that time RWD was pretty much a no go for a winning ride and he finally landed at audi for the remainder of his WRC career (including a romp up the pikes peak hillclimb, again, if memory serves right.)

        when group B cars got binned in favor of the infinitely less interesting group A cars, audi fielded the 200 quattro model, which still is a bit of a mindboggler to me -- the thing was an E-class/5-series type luxo barge and everyone else was zipping around with hot hatches like the lancia delta.

        long story short, audi had won pretty much everything BUT the safari rally, an event rohrl detested and usually skipped. but the audi overlords wanted this one bad and hooray, they 1-2'd the event, with rohrl finishing 2nd -- and audi quit WRC at the end of that season and hasn't been back since (first they went off to pikes peak, then imsa GTO and eventually le mans.)

        rohrl eventually wound up road racing for porsche and has been with them ever since. he finished 7th at lemans in a 961 one year (961 = road racing version of the 959) and imo still is one of the greatest pure drivers of all time. he just had the misfortune of never really having the best vehicle of his era (never drove the a110 alpine or stratos, went to audi right when peugeot started kicking their butts and again -- he won the WC in an opel ascona. not quite a yugo, but...)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Then Walter defected and drove Audis... he knew.

        The best was when he got into roadracing and blistered SCCA TransAm in a big family sedan.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This will be good.