Career Summary:

Volker Weidler

  • March 18, 1962
  • 56
  • Germany
  • Not Active
  • 150
  • 23
  • 53
  • 15
  • 14
  • 15.33%
  • 35.33%

Volker Weidler is a German former racing driver whose peak of the career was an overall victory at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1991, in a Mazda 787B together with Johnny Herbert and Bertrand Gachot.

Weidler also recorded ten unsuccessful attempts in Formula One, failing to qualify for ten Grand Prix races in 1989 with Rial Racing. Earlier in a career, he was German and European Formula Ford champion in 1982, German Formula 3 champion in 1985 and DTM vice-champion in 1986.

Volker Weidler (left) and Bertrand Gachot at 1991 Le Mans podium

Volker Weidler (left) and Bertrand Gachot at 1991 Le Mans podium

Double Formula Ford champion at the beginning of a career

Born in March 1962 in Heidelberg, Volker Weidler started his racing career in 1980, entering the German Formula Ford 1600 Championship.

Two years later, he won two championship titles in one year, winning both the German FF Championship and Formula Ford Euroseries. The next step in a career was the Formula 3 with Walter Lechner Racing.

German Formula 3 champion in 1985

From the beginning, he was among the front-runners in the German Formula 3 Championship, scoring one victory and finishing third in the points in 1983, behind Franz Konrad and Hans-Peter Pandur. Next year, in 1984, he won three times in a factory-entered Ralt-Volkswagen, finishing second in the points. He lost a title to Kurt Thiim.

Weidler finally reached the top in the German Formula 3 in 1985, driving a Martini-Volkswagen for Josef Kaufmann Racing. He won six races, taking the championship title with a big advantage over Kris Nissen.

In 1985, Weidler also made his sports car racing debut, joining Joest Racing in two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship, driving the #8 Porsche 956 at Hockenheim (DNF) and Spa (6th).

Volker Weidler in 1986

Volker Weidler in 1986

DTM vice-champion in 1986

In 1986, Weidler had a wide schedule of races in the International Formula 3000, DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft) and World Sports-Prototype Championship. Driving a Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 for RSM Marko, he scored two wins and finished second in the DTM, losing a title to Kurt Thiim.

He also scored one class victory with Mercedes in the European Touring Car Championship. In other competitions, he raced with Kremer's Porsche 962C and Cosmic Racing's March 84G-Porsche in the endurance races but without notable results. In the Formula 3000, he made five starts with Bromley Motorsport.

Unsuccessful debut at Le Mans in 1987

In 1987, Weidler was driving Porsche 962C exclusively, for Kremer Racing in the World Championship, Supercup and Interserie, and for Leyton House Racing in the Japanese Sports-Prototype Championship. In June, he made a debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans, sharing the #10 Porsche 962C with Kris Nissen and Kunimitsu Takahashi. Their race ended after just six laps.

In other competitions, Weidler's best result was the second place at Jerez 1000 Km and victories in two Interserie rounds, at Most Autodrom and Zeltweg.

Volker Weidler, 1988 March-Cosworth Formula 3000

Weidler was driving the #1 March-Cosworth in the 1988 Formula 3000 season

Back to Formula 3000 in 1988

In 1988, Weidler had a double programme, continuing to drive Porsche for Kremer Racing in selected races but he also returned full-time to the International Formula 3000 Championship, driving a March-Cosworth for Onyx Race Engineering.

He started in nine F3000 races, finishing best in the fourth place at Birmingham Superprix and ending a season 15th in the points. In the World Sports-Prototype Championship, his best result was the fifth place at Jarama.

Ten failing attempts in the 1989 F1 Championship

In 1989, Weidler has been invited to join Rial Racing in the team's Formula 1 attempt. After a pretty successful debut season in 1988 when Andrea de Cesaris scored some F1 points for Rial, the team expanded to two cars in 1989, hiring Christian Danner and Volker Weidler.

While Danner managed to start four races and took points once, Weidler's results were disappointing. He failed to qualify for nine Grand Prix events and was excluded from German Grand Prix at Hockenheim because of push start during qualifying. After ten rounds in the #39 Rial ARC2-Cosworth, Weidler was replaced by Pierre-Henri Raphanel.

Volker Weidler in the #39 Rial ARC2-Cosworth

Volker Weidler in the #39 Rial ARC2-Cosworth

Driving Ford Sierra Cosworth in the 1989 DTM season

Parallel to his F1 commitments in 1989, Weidler joined Ringhausen ABR Motorsport in the DTM. He was driving a Ford Sierra Cosworth, not scoring wins or podiums in thirteen races. He ended a season far from the top, in 32nd place. The champion was Roberto Ravaglia in a BMW M3.

Joining Mazdaspeed in 1989

In 1989, Weidler recorded just one start in sports car races. He joined Mazdaspeed at 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving the #203 Mazda 767B. He was sharing a car with Marc Duez and Yojiro Terada. They finished 12th overall and third among three Mazdas in the IMSA GTP class.

Next year, in June 1990, he returned to Le Mans in a new Mazda 787, sharing a car with Johnny Herbert and Bertrand Gachot. They retired after 148 laps. For the rest of the year, Weidler competed in the Japanese Formula 3000 with Team Take One and in the Japanese Sports-Prototype Championship with From A Racing's Porsche 962C.

1991 Le Mans 24 Hours, #55 Mazda 787B

Victoroous Mazda 787B at 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours

Participating in a historic Le Mans victory with Mazda

Weidler had a similar schedule of races in 1991, driving for Team Nova in the Japanese Formula 3000 and for From A Racing in the Japanese Sports-Prototype Championship, switching from Porsche to Nissan R91 CK.

The highlight of the season, but also the highlight of his career, was his third Le Mans attempt with Mazda. Sharing the #55 Mazda 787B with Johnny Herbert and Bertrand Gachot, he scored a historic maiden victory for Mazda at Le Mans 24 Hours. They managed to beat three Silk Cut Jaguars and one Sauber Mercedes-Benz C11.

1992 Le Mans, Volker Weidler

Weidler's Mazda MXR-01 at 1992 Le Mans 24 Hours

Retiring from racing at the end of 1992

After that special victory, Weidler was active for one more season and he retired from racing at the end of 1992. That year, he raced with Team Nova in the Japanese Formula 3000, with From A Racing's Nissan in the Japanese Sports-Prototype Championship and with Mazdaspeed in the World Sportscar Championship.

In February 1992, Weidler finished 8th at Daytona 24 Hours in a Nissan R91CK of Nova Engineering. In June 1992, Weidler recorded one more start at Le Mans, finishing in the fourth place in the #5 Mazda MXR-01. He was sharing a car with Johnny Herbert, Bertrand Gachot and Maurizio Sandro Sala.

One of the reason's of Weidler's retirement was a partial hearing loss as a result of many years driving Mazda prototypes with ultra noisy Wankel engines.

Photos: motorsport.com,