The legend might be nearing seventy, but his talent hasn’t diminished a bit. Walter Röhrl is still the king of driving in inclement weather, and this masterclass of graceful drifting through a sodden Nordschleife must be seen by anyone with a drop of motor oil in their veins.
Even with a 2.0-liter motor powering this vintage 911 S, Rohrl still has his hands full in the horrendous rain; sliding dramatically in corners which are taken at a relative crawl—but the lanky German isn’t fazed in the slightest. The lack of grip is quite apparent at 0:46, when he locks his brakes heading downhill into Aremburg. He casually cadence brakes, and when he realizes his efforts aren’t going to slow the car enough to make the corner, he drives casually into the runoff area, calmly avoids the spun car, and regains without the slightest hesitation. That sort of level-headedness only comes after years of racing at the edge.
Rohrl’s delicate steering helps him in these trying conditions, and so does his throttle technique. Obviously, everything is quite measured and progressive, and even when the car slides luridly, it looks composed. He turns in early, minimizes the lateral loading on the car, and “frees” it mid-corner with a subtle lift to facilitate a direction change. This way, he covers a shortest possible route through the corner and still avoids time-sapping understeer.
In fact, Röhrl’s whole approach to rallying revolves around minimizing front-axle slip. “The experience as a rally driver is very useful,” he notes, “because you are always completely alert and immediately recognize if something happens, and immediately initiate the appropriate countermeasures.” Appropriate countermeasures—what a wonderful way to put it. Exercising death-defying countersteer with such clarity and coolness, it’s no wonder this guy is the hero he is.