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Porsche - Editorial

Editorial

How time flies! Jesse Owens, Berlin, August 9, 1936. Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa, October 30, 1974. Nadia Comăneci, Montreal, July 18, 1976. Boris Becker, Wimbledon, July 7, 1984. Michael Schumacher, Spa, August 29, 2004. The German national soccer team, Belo Horizonte, July 8, 2014. People whose triumphs stand as monuments. And not to be overlooked—Walter Röhrl.

The setting is the Rallye de Portugal from March 4 through March 9, 1980. Arganil, the third stage. Miserable weather. Fog affords visibility of less than five meters, leaving racers flying blind for 42 kilometers. Röhrl, the Bavarian from Regensburg who would become a two-time world champion, says to his codriver, “Geistdörfer, fasten your seatbelt. We’re going to drive so fast and so well, the others will give up their licenses.” And the unimaginable happens: Röhrl leaves the field of elite rally drivers in the dust. His closest competitor, Markku Alén, is four minutes and fifty-nine seconds behind. The third-place finisher is half an hour back.

This is how legends are made in sports. The icon Niki Lauda once called Walter Röhrl a “genius on wheels.” And Röhrl responded frankly to the similarly notoriously undiplomatic Lauda, “What do I care?”

Our Walter—also known as “der Lange” (the tall one)—has been a Porsche representative and Porsche test-driver since 1993: a listener, an advisor, a whisperer, an ambassador, an instigator, and a lateral thinker. In March, he will turn seventy. But he has remained someone you can both look up to and get close to: brusque but approachable, blunt but warm, strikingly unassuming, soft-spoken but firm, indisputably indispensable, self-assured without being arrogant, quick-witted, and sincerely self-deprecating. When his car flipped over and he was told to blame the sand on the road for the accident, he snapped, “Tell them Röhrl is the world’s biggest loser.”

There are dozens of stories like that. For this issue of Christophorus, Walter Röhrl selected seven of them from the seven decades of his life—no melancholy retrospective, no embellishment of past accomplishments, no glorification of the extraordinary. Just snapshots of an endearing obsession, paying homage to a character with more than his share of talent and hard work. None of it seems real. But every word of it is true.

And what does Walter Röhrl have in common with tennis great Tracy Austin? Perhaps the shared belief that the pain from a loss is greater than the joy from a win.

Austin, a former world number one, returns to Stuttgart to celebrate a Porsche anniversary among stars. This year marks the fortieth Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, and Austin was the winner of the very first one in 1978 at the tender age of fifteen. Other great players making an appearance at the Porsche Arena from April 22 through April 30 will include Angelique Kerber—defending champion, Porsche ambassador, and current world number one—along with eight of the ten most successful female players of 2016.

Austin won a Porsche 924 in 1978, before she even had a driver’s license. Today she enjoys driving her 911 GT3 RS near her home in Palos Verdes south of Los Angeles—at and around the speed limit. Want to find out more?

Wherever you have come from, wherever you are going, our Christophorus will accompany you.

Christophorus ‒ The Porsche customer magazine

Christophorus is the official magazine for Porsche customers, and one of the oldest and most renowned customer publications in the world. Its issues have been numbered consecutively since its launch in 1952.

Named after the patron saint of travelers, the magazine provides interesting information about cars and automotive engineering, and offers an exclusive glimpse behind the scenes of the company.

Christophorus currently appears five times a year in German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Taiwanese Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Dutch and Polish.

Selected articles will be published online successively every two weeks.

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