Remembering Jochen Berger: Rally Ace Would Have Turned 75 This Month
- First German professional rally co-driver died back in 2010
- Partnership with Walter Röhrl crowned by 1974 European rally title in Opel Ascona
- Loyal to Opel brand in historic racing and rallying even after retirement
Rüsselsheim. Jochen Berger, born 75 years ago on July 19, 1946, was the first German professional co-driver in rallying and a former manager of the motorsport department at the German carmaker. Berger was perhaps best-known as the co-driver of rally legend, Walter Röhrl, whom he partnered from 1972 to 1976.
Röhrl and Berger won the European Rally Championship in 1974, taking victory in six of the 11 rounds in the works Opel Ascona, Their last event together was the Monte Carlo Rally of 1976 where – despite the unseasonably dry special stages that favoured the opposition – they finished an outstanding fourth in a Group 2 (lightly modified production model) Opel Kadett GT/E, defeated only by the three works Lancia Stratos purpose-built (Group 4) rally cars.
Following the exceptional success on the “Monte”, Berger took over responsibility for Opel Motorsport, where he laid the foundations for his former chauffeur, Röhrl and co-driver Christian Geistdörfer to win the 1982 World Rally Championship in an Opel Ascona 400.
In Walter Röhrl’s biography, “Aufschrieb”, Berger wrote: “As team manager, I wasn’t Walter’s boss. The driver is always the boss, he gets what he wants and needs. I don’t think I favoured Walter over the others. Whoever was ahead, got the best.”
Berger remained an “Opelaner”, a loyal friend of the brand, after retiring from the company. He increasingly immersed himself in historic racing and rallying, to which he applied the same professionalism and enthusiasm as in the “hot-seat” of Opel rally cars.