- July 27, 1972
- Not Active
Manfred Stohl is an Austrian rally and rallycross driver and team owner who recorded 127 starts in the World Rally Championship between 1991 and 2012, scoring six podiums to become the most successful Austrian rally driver in the world's premier competition. A peak of his career in rallying was a title of the Production World Rally Champion in 2000. In the overall standings, his career-best WRC result was fourth place in 2006.
In recent years, Stohl was more focused on rallycross, spending a full season in the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship with World RX Team Austria. In rallying, he spent last two seasons mostly competing in China.
Starting a career along with his father
Manfred Stohl was born on July 7, 1972, in Vienna, Austria. His father Rudolf (Rudi) Stohl (born 1947) was a rally driver and he was still active when Manfred started a rallying career in 1991. Manfred was a navigator to his father few times and then moved to driver's seat at 1991 Rallye Cote d'Ivoire, which was a part of the World Rally Championship. Manfred's first navigator was Kay Gerlach.
Manfred was driving an Audi 90 Quattro, same as his father. Manfred didn't finish the rally, Rudi Stohl was third, scoring his second WRC podium in a career. The first one he reached a year earlier in the same event.
Stohl was driving Audi until 1996
In 1992, Manfred participated in two African WRC events - Safari Rally and Rallye Cote d'Ivoire. Still driving an Audi 90 quattro, he was seventh in Cote d'Ivoire, scoring his first WRC points. In 1993, Manfred was driving Audi 90 quattro at Safari Rally and then switched to Audi Coupe S2 for Rally Argentina. He also expanded his schedule of races to several European events.
In the following years, Stohl continued to drive Audi Coupe S2 in selected WRC events and in different European events. In 1996, he was driving Subaru Impreza 555 in two events, including Rally Argentina, where he was eleventh.
Mitsubishi driver since 1997
And then, in 1997, Stohl got a contract with Mitsubishi Ralliart Germany to compete in the FIA Cup for Drivers of Production Cars (later known as the Production World Rally Championship). He was driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III in six events and Lancer Evo IV in Finland. Stohl finished third in the championship in his debut year. Peter Müller was his co-driver for most of the season.
In 1998, Stohl was a step closer to the championship title, finishing second in the points, behind Gustavo Trelles. Stohl was the PWRC class winner three times during a season (Monte-Carlo, Tour de Corse, Rally GB). In 1999, he was without wins, finishing fourth in the PWRC standings.
Production World Rally Champion in 2000
In 2000, Manfred Stohl and Peter Müller had a perfect season in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, winning four times in the PWRC classification to finally won the championship title, ahead of four-time champion Gustavo Trelles.
Next year, Stohl was combining PWRC campaign in the Mitsubishi with Junior WRC campaign in the Top Run's Fiat Punto S1600. He finished third in the PWRC standings and scored no points in the JWRC.
Progressing to WRC class in 2002
In 2002, Stohl made a step further, driving WRC cars for most of the season, with Ilka Minor-Petrasko as full-time navigator. Stohl started a season with Toyota Corolla WRC at Rallye Monte-Carlo, then switched to Ford Focus RS WRC 01 for the Austrian championship, using that car also at Cyprus Rally and Rally GB. At the end of the season, he was second in the Austrian championship.
In two WRC events, at New Zealand and Australia, he was using Group N Mitsubishi Lancer. The fourth car in 2002 was a Peugeot 206 WRC, which Stohl was driving at Rali Vinho de Madeira (ERC).
Two attempts with Hyundai World Rally Team
In 2003, Stohl continued to combine different cars, driving Stohl Racing's Peugeot 206 WRC in three WRC events, Stohl Racing's Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI in the Austrian events and joining Hyundai World Rally Team in two WRC events with Hyundai Accent WRC3.
He was 11th at Acropolis Rally and 18th at Rally Deutschland driving for Hyundai. The season-best result was the seventh place at Wales Rally GB in his private Peugeot 206 WRC.
Driving for OMV World Rally Team since 2004
For the 2004 season, the Austrian oil company OMV formed the OMV World Rally Team. Stohl was driving Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, participating in six WRC events and taking PWRC victory at New Zealand, to finish sixth in the PWRC standings.
He also took part in two WRC events with his own Peugeot 206 WRC, reaching the sixth place at Acropolis Rally and eighth place at Wales Rally GB.
Maiden WRC podium at 2005 Cyprus Rally
For the 2005 WRC season, the OMV team switched to Citroën Xsara WRC. In the sixth championship round, at Cyprus Rally, Stohl surprisingly scored his maiden WRC podium, finishing second behind Citroën factory driver Sebastien Loeb.
In the season-ending Rally Australia, Stohl was on a podium again, finishing in the third place behind Francois Duval (Citroen) and Harri Rovanpera (Mitsubishi). At the end of the season, Stohl was ninth in the championship points.
Fourth place in the 2006 WRC season
Stohl was on a podium for the first time in Mexico in the third round of the season. In the last three events (Australia, New Zealand, GB) he scored three more podiums, with the best finish at Wales Rally GB, where he was in the second place behind Marcus Gronholm (Ford). At the end of the season, Stohl was fourth in the championship standings, behind Seb Loeb, Marcus Gronholm and Mikko Hirvonen.
The last full WRC season in 2007
The season 2007 was the last full WRC season for Manfred Stohl. He was driving the #5 Citroen Xsara WRC for the OMV Kronos Citroën team. He was regular point scorer but without podiums. His best result was sixth place in both Mexico and Japan.
At the end of the season, Stohl was ninth in the points. After that season, OMV withdrew their support for WRC, leaving Stohl without a full-time drive for the 2008 season.
Competing with CNG-powered rally cars
However, OMV continued to participate as Stohl's sponsor in other competitions. In 2008, Stohl participated in one Austrian event, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX CNG for OMV CNG Rallye Team. In 2009, they expanded a cooperation to full-time Austrian championship. Stohl was driving CNG-powered Subaru Impreza STI, finishing second in the championship.
In 2010, the OMV CNG Rally Team and Manfred Stohl were using Peugeot 207 S2000 and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, scoring a sixth place in the Austrian championship. Stohl was driving CNG-powered Lancer Evo IX for Nichts leicht als Erdgas Team in 2012, finishing third in the Austrian championship.
One-off return to the World Rally Championship in 2012
In 2012, Stohl returned to the World Rally Championship in one event, at Rally New Zealand, driving Ford Fiesta RS WRC for Brazil World Rally Team, replacing the regular driver Daniel Oliveira. He finished in the tenth place, scoring one point. It remained his last WRC participation in a career.
In 2014, Stohl moved his activities to China, participating in two rally events. In 2015, he expanded his programme to five Chinese events and then to three more events in 2016.
Switching to rallycross in 2014
While slowing down his commitments in rallying, Stohl switched an interest to rallycross. He debuted in the World Rallycross Championship in the last round of 2014 season, driving a Citroen DS3 Supercar as a guest for Petter Solberg's team in Argentina. Stohl was 10th in the intermediate classification and qualified for the Semi Finals.
In 2015, Stohl returned to World RX as a full-time driver of Max Pucher's World RX Team Austria, driving the #7 Ford Fiesta. Stohl participated in all thirteen rounds of the championship, finishing best in the fifth place in the Italian round at Franciacorta circuit. At the end of the season, he was 11th in the championship standings.