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TCR Europe

Excellent score Tom Coronel in his TCR Europe Series home round in the Ardennes

Gepubliceerd op 28 May 2023

FRANCORCHAMPS (28 May 2023) – In both races of the TCR Europe Series at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in the Belgian Ardennes, Tom Coronel came second from the European series’ regulars with his Tricorp Audi RS 3 LMS run by Belgian team, Comtoyou Racing. As a result, he kept his position as the leader in the drivers’ standings after three of this season’s seven race weekends. “A nice score, nice racing in beautiful weather at one of the most beautiful circuits in what was actually my home round as we aren’t racing at Zandvoort this year. I am definitely happy,” Coronel said afterwards.

During the previous race weekend in Pau in the south of France, Coronel had played it tactically by settling for tenth time in qualifying, allowing him to unload the 40 kilograms of success ballast he got on board after his good start of the season in Portimão for the Francorchamps event. “That is especially important at a fast circuit like Francorchamps with its many differences in altitude,” Coronel knew. The result already was apparent in the practice sessions: Coronel opened on Friday with the third fastest time overall and the fastest time of the TCR Europe Series competitors in first free practice and confirmed with the second-fastest time, behind his Belgian teammate Kobe Pauwels, in the second session. In qualifying, Coronel was adamant that he could have been among the first three, which was a realistic expectation given his practice results, but as a rival competitor, who later incurred a three-place grid drop penalty for doing so, got in his way twice, he eventually had to settle for seventh place on the grid as the second driver from the European series.

Coronel started very well into the first race and had a nice fight with the equally experienced Rob Huff. “Eventually I was able to overtake him after three laps. He made it a bit difficult for me, while I was a lot faster. When I finally passed him, I was able to gradually close the gap to the drivers at the front. In front of me, my teammate Pauwels and Urrutia were battling with each other. I was able to slightly close up, but I felt that my front tyres were degrading, so I decided not to take too much risk and settle for P5 overall and second place in the European standings. On the final lap, the team came on the radio asking me to allow the the two factory Audis competing for the TCR World Tour to get past. Well, there is no such thing as a free lunch, as they say, so I traded that for a day of testing in a GT car. I thought it was worth it, as I am not competing in the World Tour after all, and it didn’t change anything for me for the European Championship. As a result, I finished second in the European Championship standings and I was satisfied with that.”

In the second race, Coronel got off to a great start once more. “A seriously good start, so I was able to attack right away. In the first corner Fernandez and Michelisz were fighting with each other, which allowed Filippi to pull clear out in front, in the end I was able to catch Fernandez. With that, I was behind Michelisz trying all the time to find an opportunity where I could attack him, but I just didn’t manage to find a gap. It was simply impossible, although I was faster, and therefore I lost the connection to Filippi. On the penultimate lap Urrutia hit me, which meant I had to go straight on, because I can’t simply just disappear. In the end, I finished third overall and second for the European championship. Everything went well, I had driven a super race. To be honest, I would have liked to take a win, but a pair of second places in the European Championship standings and in total no less than five trophies, two for the pair of second places in the European Series, one for third place overall and twice the cup for the ‘Diamond Trophy’, the classification for drivers over 40. There, I am now comfortably leading as well.” In the overall TCR Europe Series rankings, Coronel now leads with a total of 218 points, 16 more than his French teammate John Filippi. Belgian driver Kobe Pauwels retired early from Sunday’s race at Francorchamps, missing out on valuable points and he is now 59 points behind Coronel.

The next two TCR Europe Series races will be held on 17 and 18 June at the Hungaroring in Mogyoród near Budapest.