Snapshot, 1982: Fear of flying not enough to sideline the ‘Querlenker’

It’s June 1982, and Walter Röhrl is powering through his jet-lag to prepare for the seventh race of the World Rally Championship, the 12th Motogard Rally of New Zealand…

Although not the biggest fan of flying, Walter Röhrl faced the multi-plane, 24-hour-plus journey to spend the next 10 hours side-winding through the dirt roads of New Zealand in his Opel Ascona 400 — is there no better reason to face your fears? After four podium finishes, and a fierce rivalry with Audi brewing, Röhrl is definitely motivated to make the excursion worthwhile. Although he won’t make it to the top of the podium, his third-place finish, behind two Toyota Celica 2000GTs, will prove the trip worth it, as it will earn the Opel team 14 points and put them ahead of Audi. Throughout the championship, Röhrl will earn enough points to eventually make him the 1982 Driver’s World Rally Champion, but Audi will slowly gain ground and edge Opel out to win the manufacturers’ title — you win some, you lose some.

Photo: McKlein