Obituary for Reinhold Roth: He just wanted to arrive – sport

Anyone who heard Reinhold Roth speak had no idea of ​​his passion for speed. The man with the thinning hair and the distinctive mustache spoke rather slowly. And he almost always smiled. Roth, who was born in the Allgäu, was not quick with words. But on the motorcycle.

The trained retail salesman and motor vehicle mechanic were particularly fond of two-wheelers. His daily training included 80 to 100 kilometers on the bike, on the racing bike of course. Trial, the discipline that is about skill and control of the motorcycle, is also a good exercise, said Roth. “But I lacked the speed.” Sometimes he rushed boldly across the yard at home with an all-terrain machine, with his little son Matthias between his legs, just like that, for the joy of speed.

At home, that was Amtzell, where they called him “Jointie” because he smoked so many cigarettes. Actually, completely unreasonable for someone who trained early – earlier than most others – with nutrition plans and scientific support in order to become even faster.

Competitors on the slopes: Reinhold Roth, left, and Toni Mang.

(Photo: Werek / imago)

Roth had always been quick, but the years passed before he made it to the top of the world, also because injuries kept throwing him back. In 1976, at the age of 23, he won his first race in the OMK Cup – OMK, which stood for “Supreme Motorcycle Commission”. The following year it was twelve. And in 1978 he became German champion in the class up to 250 cubic centimeters – ahead of a certain Anton Mang from Inning am Ammersee, who a little later would become the best German motorcycle pilot in history and five-time world champion.

June 17, 1990 changed his life

Roth made his debut in the 1979 World Cup, but it was not until 1987 that he was on a factory machine. On July 19, he won his first Grand Prix at Le Mans when he was 34 years old and led the World Championship standings after eight of 15 races by 15 points; Even Mang, at the time already four-time world champion, saw him in the favorite position, especially since Roth was considered a “comer”, someone who always scores points. “Arrive safely” was his goal for the rest of the season. Almost humbly, he said at the time: “The situation is so good, it may not be that good in my life.” Roth was tragically proven right.

After Le Mans, he never came back on the podium in the 1987 season and was intercepted by Mang, who celebrated his fifth world title. Once again, in 1989, Roth finished second in the overall standings after breaking a leg the year before and losing all World Cup chances as the leader. His dream of the world title remained unfulfilled. The audience loved him anyway, or perhaps because of that, as an unshakable stand-up man.

And then came June 17, 1990, the Yugoslavian Grand Prix in Rijeka. Roth, Helmut Bradl and Martin Wimmer were in the lead and wanted to overtake Australian Darren Milner. It had rained, visibility was poor, and Milner, who wanted to give up, drove very slowly on the ideal line. Bradl and Wimmer avoided it in time. But Roth did not notice Milner and drove onto his machine at top speed. He was in a coma for six weeks afterwards. He was never to recover from the consequences of the fall and the severe brain damage he had sustained. Last Friday, Reinhold Roth died at the age of 68 in the hospital in Wangen in the Allgäu. His wife Elfriede, who looked after him for 31 years, told the magazine Speedweekthat he “fell asleep peacefully”.

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