Rally legend Walter Röhrl: For 50 years
„nothing better than RECARO“
Stuttgart – Lovers, collectors and drivers of classic cars have been waiting a long time for this: At Retro Classics in Stuttgart, RECARO Automotive Seating, leading manufacturer of performance car seats, presented three new seats from its Classic Line. The outstanding comfort, excellent ergonomics and sporty seating experience of the new RECARO products will be confirmed to fans of the brand by none other than rally legend Walter Röhrl, one of the best rally drivers of all time, with the „Approved by Walter Röhrl“ label. In an interview with RECARO Automotive Seating, the multiple rally world champion talks about what connects him to RECARO and how important good seating is to be able to drive well.
When did you first come into contact with RECARO?
Walter Röhrl: I did the math and this year it is actually 50 years since I have been driving in RECARO seats. To be honest, it’s actually been even 51 years since I first drove a BMW 2002 ti in 1969 – and was immediately placed in a higher class because of the professional racing shell. In 1970 I started with my Porsche 911 S at the International Rally Bavaria, I had RECARO racing shells in this beautiful leather-pepita-mix. You know, I didn’t know any other seat brand than RECARO at that time – and because the seats convinced me from the beginning, I have always remained loyal to the brand.
Rallying makes extreme demands on people and materials – what is important when it comes to seats?
Walter Röhrl: You sit in the car for up to 40 hours at a time, under the toughest conditions. That’s why the seat not only has to provide support and protect the body from the shocks and blows, but also offer a certain level of comfort. And if you get out of your racing car having won a 40-hour race with no back pain to show for it, you know the seat manufacturer has done everything right. This year, I have driven the Historic Rally Monte Carlo for a long time again, that was about 2,700 kilometres, naturally also on RECARO. And I didn’t have a backache for a second, the seat fitted perfectly.
Driving at the limit is the rule in rallying – have there ever been critical situations outside this limit in your career?
Walter Röhrl: Yes, there was this one moment in 1985 at the San Remo Rally. Looking back, it was the worst accident in my career. We had a tenfold rollover with the car, up and down the slope. My co-driver and I both got out of the car unharmed, thanks to our RECARO seats. I can’t imagine if something had broken back then. This has confirmed me once again very impressively: There is nothing better than RECARO. But a rally seat is certainly the most difficult task for a seat manufacturer because of the continuous challenge over a long period of time. RECARO has always solved this perfectly, and from this – and this is also my personal experience – every RECARO seat benefits. Even and especially if it comes to road-legal cars.
That means you also drive RECARO privately?
Walter Röhrl: Yes, I have always installed RECARO seats in all of my private vehicles. And I have also often taken the seats from one car to the next. With RECARO, you simply prefer to drive a car and have more driving fun.
In your experience, what role does the seat generally play in driving?
Walter Röhrl: Good driving begins with good seating. This is very often underestimated. I can only drive well if I form a unit with the seat. The seat has to support me, hold me firmly, and I have to trust it in every road condition and every curve. I always say that the seat must keep my hands free so that I can really use the steering wheel as a steering wheel and not as a holding wheel. In this respect, RECARO’s old advertising slogan was exactly right: if you sit well, you drive better. I sign that one hundred percent.
Can yout tell us more about the background supporting the new Classic Line from RECARO with your name?
Walter Röhrl: As I said earlier, I have been relying on RECARO since the beginning of my career. The seats were my first choice for 50 years, and that will remain unchanged. That’s why I was there when it came to the development of the new Classic seats. I was able to contribute my experience and also consulted the team on the design and choice of cover materials. For me, there is nothing better than RECARO, that is what I stand for with my name and with the label „Approved by Walter Röhrl“. After all, I have been testing and approving RECARO for 50 years.
Joint milestones in the motorsport career of Walter Röhrl on RECARO (excerpt)
Various rallies with own BMW 2002 ti
Various rallies on Alfa. Rally Bavaria: first run on Porsche 911 S with RECARO seat
Third place in the German Championship on Ford Capri and RECARO with co-driver Marecek (Kleint R.S. Team)
First overall victory at a European Championship round (Wiesbaden Rally)
Three rallies on Ford Capri
Breakthrough Walter Röhrl with success at legendary Olympic Rally
Engagement Walter Röhrl/Jochen Berger at Opel works team
Röhrl/Berger become Vice European Champion at the European
Rally Championship on Irmscher Opel Ascona and RECARO
Röhrl/Berger become European Champion with the Opel Euro dealer team on Opel Ascona and RECARO in the European Rally Championship
Engagements in the World Rally Championship on Opel Ascona and RECARO and in the European Rally Championship on Opel Kadett GT/E and RECARO
First overall victory in the WRC at Rally Acropolis
Engagements in the World Rally Championship, European Championship, DM and circuit races on Opel Kadett GT/E and RECARO
Engagements in the World Rally Championship, European Championship and DM on Opel Kadett GT/E and RECARO
Overall victory Arbö Rallye on private Rallye Porsche 911 and RECARO
Contract with Mercedes, Mercedes cancels season participation
Participation Rallye-DM on Porsche 924 and RECARO
Participation Rallye San Remo on Porsche 911 and RECARO
Further assignments with Porsche 935, Porsche 944, R5 Turbo, Ford Escort, Ascona, all on RECARO
Engagements in the World Rally Championship on Opel Ascona 400 and RECARO
Second victory at Rally Monte Carlo on Opel Ascona and RECARO
Second World Rally Championship title
Worth mentioning: Despite 2-WD placement before the Quattros, last world championship title with 2-WD vehicle
Operations in the World Rally Championship and DM on Lancia 037 Rally
Third victory at Rally Monte Carlo on Lancia 037 Rally
Racing in the World Rally Championship on Audi Quattro and RECARO
Fourth victory in Monte Carlo Rally on Audi Quattro and RECARO
Racing in the World Rally Championship on Audi Sport Quattro and RECARO
World championship stakes, Audi withdraws from rallying
Racing in the World Rally Championship on Audi 200 Quattro and RECARO
Historic victory at Pikes Peak with course record
Races in the TransAm championship in the USA on Audi 200 Quattro and RECARO, with Hans-Joachim Stuck and Hurley Haywood, two overall victories
Races in the IMSA/GTO Championship in the USA on Audi 90 Quattro and RECARO, with Hans-Joachim Stuck and Hurley Haywood
Racing in the DTM on Audi V8 Quattro and RECARO
Racing in the DTM on Audi V8 Quattro and RECARO inserts on Porsche 944 and Porsche 911, each with RECARO
Operations on Porsche 911 and RECARO in Germany and the USA From 2019 Product development Classic Line with RECARO
Product development Classic Line with Recaro
Presentation of new RECARO Classic seats, approved by Walter Röhrl
1970 until today
Use of RECARO seats in private vehicles of Walter Röhrl (road legal)