Röhrl and Mikkola’s sons recreate 50-year-old rally

The Olympia Rallye 1972 is being revived this week, beginning today and finishing on Saturday


The 25-year-old German slowed his Ford Capri to a stop alongside the marshal who had waved him down. He might have to wait a while. A film was being made along the road.

And no ordinary film. The star of this movie? Then three-time 1000 Lakes winner and hero of the rally world, Hannu Mikkola. The location of a true driving genius just around the corner was enough to get Walter Röhrl out of his car.

“Hannu was the big driver in the time,” Röhrl told DirtFish. “Everybody knew about him and I was just starting in the sport. I didn’t want to miss the chance to go and see him in real life.”

What he saw from the Finn in a forest close to Kiel, northern Germany, was unforgettable for Walter.

And it underlined his own need to move further down the road he was just starting out on.

These two great men would go on to define a generation of our sport, but back then they were preparing for the Olympia Rallye.

Half a century later and Röhrl is back in town. Back to revive the memory of Olympia-Rallye ’72. And to honor the memory of his friend and fellow world champion Mikkola.

Hannu’s sons Juha and Vesa will drive one of the works Audi quattros from their father’s career. Röhrl will use different cars from down his career, including a Capri which was one of 10- built for the original event in 1972, a Porsche 911 and a quattro from his time in the Audi squad alongside Mikkola.

Fifty years on from the original Olympia (an event both Mikkola and Röhrl retired from) this week’s re-run starts from Kiel on Monday (August 8) and includes 72 driving challenges in a six-day route which includes Wolfsburg, Cologne and Regensburg – Röhrl’s home town. The event finishes in Munich on Saturday August 13.

Juha Mikkola said: “It’s actually quite hard to put into words what it means to see what people are doing in dad’s memory. Vesa and I are really looking forward to driving the car and to re-living some of the memories and moments dad went through. It’s going to be a very special week.


“And, of course, it will also be nice to see people like Walter [Röhrl], Jean-Pierre [Nicolas], Rauno Aaltonen and even racing legends like Hans-Joachim Stuck – the entry list is a very special one. I’m sure there will be lots of stories this week. Stories like the one about Walter’s times on this Olympia Rallye, when the organizers were thinking they couldn’t believe his time and decided to change it by one minute – thinking it was out by one minute.

“Later they realized it was right and they had to backtrack and give him the time back!”

Alois Drexler is the organizer behind this revival event – an event which is the culmination of three years’ hard work.

“This event was really the start of Walter’s career,” he said. “I knew I wanted to make a celebration of 50 years, but I didn’t know what to do. I thought about a big celebration party in Munich, but then decided to go for another rally through Germany.

“When we started to talk about this idea, immediately people were supporting us and we were able to gather people and bring them along on this great idea. I think now we have the perfect route in six days with some really interesting regulatory sections using photo sensors to make sure the timing is perfect and some navigational tests. It’s going to be a great week.”