“Fooling the spectators”: Menzel condemns sandbagging
Christian Menzel bursts his collar: He describes the behaviour of the manufacturers at the VLN opening as “joking with the spectator and with the sport” – How to brake in
Christian Menzel’s anger has been building up – for some time now. The 46-year-old is considered one of the fiercest critics of all the measures that have been introduced at the Nürburgring over the past ten years. One of these is the manufacturers’ regular “sand bagging” in the VLN races at the beginning of the season before the 24-hour race. Menzel, who shares a Ferrari 488 GT3 with his son Nico and Leonard Weiss (son of Wochenspiegel boss Georg Weiss).
During the VLN opening, during a visit to the speaker’s booth, his collar finally bursts when he reports about his first stint: “Guys, that’s embarrassing what you’re doing! This is a joke to the fans and the sport. Don’t you feel stupid?”, he rumbles towards the big manufacturers on the ring. At the races leading up to the 24-hour race, there are regular accusations that the factory supported teams deliberately drive slowly in order to achieve a better classification for the prestigious race or at least not to be slowed down.
Many teams held back so conspicuously during the Westfalenfahrt that it was already noticeable again. Vehicles that fought for victory last year were suddenly minutes behind the victorious Manthey Porsche (which is clearly exempt from the accusations): “Anyone who carries out such sand bagging should be punished mercilessly,” Menzel finds, referring to the USA, where, for example, the 24 hours of Daytona have explicit rules that punish sand bagging.
But how is trickery done? Menzel has seen through it: “There are cars that have no performance because they drive completely overfat. I was driving behind a vehicle today and I had tears in my eyes. I experienced this for the last time as a child when I was stuck in traffic in the 1970s. And then they change their mapping for a straight line and suddenly drive away” means: Too much fuel is deliberately injected, which causes the engine to lose power.
Manthey Racing also grins maliciously at the very simple victory of Kevin Estre, Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor. Team boss Nicki Raeder says: “Before the 24-hour race we have the advantage that many cars drive with their hand brakes on. But the line between conscious sand bagging and unsuccessful experimentation is not quite as simple as that. Many teams also use the first VLN runs for material testing.
The second vehicle that was clearly full was the car of the team-mates of Menzel/Menzel/Weiss, the Wochenspiegel-Ferrari #22 (Weiss/Kainz/Krumbach). One reason why Menzel decided to join the WTM team: “At Wochenspiegel I’ve never experienced such political shit, you only hear positive things”, said the former DTM driver, who finished 19th overall with the two youngsters at the Ferrari premiere.