Marcel Manheller knows what he is talking about. The 28-years-old grew up not far away from the Nürburgring. With his home in Döttingen, Manheller has petrol running through his veins. The legendary track in the Eifel region is his second home. Manheller has a profound knowledge of the 24.385 kilometres long combination of the Grand Prix Circuit short connection and the Nordschleife. With the BMW 325i of Manheller Racing, he took four victories in class V4 in the VLN season 2017, with changing team mates. Due to these successful results, the local hearo became third in the championship table.
“The fun factor and the attraction are on a very high level. This is not just a normal race track. It reminds me always a little bit of competing in rallies. It is never the same, the itinerary keeps on changing. Not to speak of the weather. It may be pretty dry at the Döttinger Höhe, but wet again at the Adenauer Forst”, says Manheller with regard to the Eifel circuit. Below, he will go into details. Where are the specific points on the track, which sectors remain in the memory of the drivers and why? Manheller explains:
The favourite sector: I do not have to think twice here. This is clearly the sector from Hohe Acht over Wippermann up to Brünnchen. That goes under my skin. That makes my heart beat faster. In this sector, I can push much harder than anywhere else. I can cut the curbs with the car just like in rallying.
The sector in which you risk to lose the greatest amount of time: That is a good question. Actually, you may lose time just everywhere. You must remember that we don’t have the same speed with our BMW as with a GT3 car. We always try to keep the speed and to drive on the limit. You can lose anywhere. If, for example, you don’t take the Bergwerk corner with the right speed with the following long uphill straight, then you lose incredibly much time. One, two seconds lost, if you end up on the wrong line. It is similar at Wippermann and of course at Hatzenbach.
The sector in which you must be particularly careful in wet conditions: In this respect, I can say something from my own hurtful experience: Last year in VLN race 10, I had a huge off in Schwedenkreuz in front of the Aremberg corner. Now, I exercise particular care in this sector so that this does not happen again. Unfortunately, I missed my braking point there on the wet track. The ABS in my BMW had failed and then I started to brake beside the racing line and crashed straight into the guardrails as a result. The race was of course over for me at that point. Every time I pass this sector now in the rain, I have to think of this incident.
The sector in which you have some time to take a short but deep breath: The long straights at the Döttinger Höhe and at the Bergwerk. There I can breathe deeply and take a pause, I don’t get as much speed there as in the other sectors. You have a short time then to send some information by radio to the pits or to take a drink. And above all to calm down again a bit. But you should never forget to keep an eye onto the left and right mirrors. Otherwise you might all of a sudden have a competitor in your luggage compartment. It is anyhow absolutely impossible to take a break at the Nordschleife.
The sector in which the adrenalin level rises most: Schwedenkreuz itself. When you take that part at a speed of 200 km/h, you will have greatest respect as a driver. That remains all times. You simply never know what you have to expect after the jump. Will there be any lubricants on the track surface? Is it slippery? It is difficult to assess what is going to come, do you risk to lose control or not? You just hope every time that everything will go well. It is really a leap in the dark. But, on the other hand, this is also what is so fascinating. The Fuchsröhre, too, is definitely also a sector which you have to conquer every time.
The hardest braking point: The Aremberg corner after the Schwedenkreuz is very demanding, particularly in wet conditions. If you arrive there with full speed, you must find the exact braking point. You exit the Schwedenkreuz with a lot of speed and then you must enter the Fuchsröhre on the right. So far, I have managed this quite well in general. Except one off. You have to brake hard also at the hairpin after start and finish. The same again in the downhill passage Breidscheid.
Where do you have to take the biggest risks to be fast: In my opinion this is the sector up at the Galgenkopf, at the small carrousel. To get out there, to find the exact steering point and then to get onto the racing line, for me this represents a true challenge. Especially as there are not so many run-off areas at this point. If you make a mistake, you go off to the left into the green.
Points which are not really suitable for overtaking: Amongst those is definitely the twisty section in the Stefan-Bellof-S. If you enter the Pflanzgarten there bumper to bumper, there is no possibility to overtake. The track doesn’t allow for that. And also at Hatzenbach with the many narrow corners one after the other. You better keep some distance there to the car in front. You would anyhow always leave enough space to each other as, if you push too hard, you may hit another car and the race is over for both cars. It is, however, also always a question of the individual situation. You develop a feeling over the time on what is manageable or whether you would cause an accident.
The most emotional sector: In this respect there is only one answer. This is for sure the section at Brünnchen and Pflanzgarten. This is the place where most of the fans come and you realize that as a driver. In the corner of your eye you see the people cheering passionately, once there was even a display of fireworks. That is really cool. In the information lap specifically, I can have a quiet look at this scenery, which is afterwards no longer possible. This sector is indeed the highlight in terms of atmosphere.