Belfast Telegraph

Legend Rohrl returning to Belfast for Titanic Deja Vu event

 

By Sammy Hamill

He came, he saw and he conquered - and in some style too. Now, former world rally champion Walter Rohrl is coming back to Belfast this weekend - but this time just for fun.

It was 34 years ago that Rohrl won the Ulster Rally, but his stunning performance in a mighty Audi Quattro S4 is still remembered by all who saw it.

The great German, voted Rally Driver of the Millennium and called "a genius on wheels" by three-time Formula One world champion Niki Lauda, is taking part in the Titanic Deja Vu Ulster, another of the popular rally reunions which have already raised £70,000 for charity.

Back in 1984, Rohrl and his co-driver Christian Geistdörfer came to Northern Ireland for the first time and blasted their Group B 'short' Quattro over the Antrim, Down and Fermanagh stages, destroying a line-up that included Russell Brookes, Jimmy McRae and Bertie Fisher by over four minutes.

Winner of 14 World Championship rallies, including Monte Carlo four times, Rohrl was champion in 1980 and '82, and a panel of 100 worldwide motorsport experts voted him the best rally driver ever.

But Rohrl was equally at home on the race track, a class winner at Le Mans and a past record holder at the legendary Pike's Peak hillclimb in America.

Still a Porsche-contracted driver, he will head a cavalcade of historic rally cars over famous Antrim stages such as Glendun and Torr Head in a Porsche 911RS owned by Ulster Rally sponsor John Mulholland.

He will be joined by many of his contemporaries, including Ulster's own Paddy Hopkirk driving a replica of his 1964 Monte Carlo-winning Mini Cooper.

Also taking part will be Hopkirk's fellow Circuit of Ireland winners Adrian Boyd and Cathal Curley, plus Ulster Rally winner Derek Boyd and the first Irish Tarmac champion John Taylor, as well as the best women drivers of their generations, Rosemary Smith and Louise Aitken-Walker.

Leaving the Titanic Quarter at 10am, over 100 cars will head up the Knockagh Hill above Whiteabbey, historically used as both a rally stage and a hillclimb, then on through Glenoe village and over Cairncastle mountain north of Larne.

They will travel on along the Causeway Coastal Route for an informal halt at the historic Londonderry Arms Hotel in Carnlough, before heading inland again to take in two of the Glens of Antrim's favourite tests, Orra Lodge and Glendun.

Finally, it is Torr Head, regarded as the finest rally stage in Northern Ireland.

The crews will then head back for a gala dinner in Titanic Belfast held on Saturday night.

Organisers Beatty Crawford and Plum Tyndall have nominated Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Fund for Children as the designated charities.

Leading runners: Walter Rohrl/John Mulholland (Porsche 911RS); Paddy Hopkirk/Rory Kennedy (Mini Cooper S); Louise Aiken-Walker/Graham Walker (Lotus Sunbeam); Cathal Curley/Pat McCourt (Ford Mustang); Derek Boyd/Richard Hall (Porsche 911); John Taylor/Bryce Sands (Ford Escort); Adrian Boyd/Caryl Love (Alpine Renault A110); Rosemary Smith/Pat Fay (Sunbeam Tiger); John Haugland/Julie Entwistle-Haugland (Skoda Rapid 126); Robert Woodside/TBA (Porsche GT3).

Cars can be seen at: 10.00am Titanic Quarter; 10.15 approx. Knockagh Hillclimb; 10.30 approx. Glenoe Village; 10.45 approx. Cairncastle Hillclimb; 11.00 approx. Glenarm; 12.00-14.00 Cushendun village followed by a tour over Torr Head.

Belfast Telegraph

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