To be fair, he wasn’t motivated by humility. Instead it was a concept that Fiat’s chief engineer Sergio Limone had come up with, figuring that having the mass of the co-driver directly above the rear axle would help to improve traction and weight distribution.
The Fiat 131 was blindingly fast on asphalt but never quite had the same pace on loose gravel, and the new seating arrangement - intended to address that problem - was rolled out for Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship in 1978.
Despite recording times in testing that were nearly a second a mile quicker than a conventionally arranged 131, the results were inconclusive when it came to competition. Rohrl said that any slight benefit he felt was diluted by the disturbing feeling of flying solo with only a disembodied voice coming from the back for company, while Geistdorfer too reported that the new perspective he had on the world was unnerving and reasonably nauseating.
The idea was quietly dropped: particularly as Rohrl and Geistdorfer finished an unspectacular sixth, which was their worst classified finish of the year. But at least they had fun at the service park, where Rohrl used to dress up in a uniformed chauffeur’s peaked cap before driving into the service area...