Another podium for Tom Coronel in TCR Europe Series
FRANCORCHAMPS (19 June 2022) – “One of the most beautiful circuits on planet Earth.” Tom Coronel is making no secret of his enthusiasm for the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in the Belgian Ardennes where he raced in the TCR Europe Series this weekend. With his Audi RS 3 LMS, run by Belgian team Comtoyou Racing and sporting the DHL colours, the Dutch driver enjoyed himself as usual. In the first race, he made nice progress to finish fifth and in the second race, he came third, standing on the podium again as a result.
“Driving there is always something special, that feeling of: ‘Yes, we are going to Spa’, that is always making it extraordinary,” Tom Coronel said. “There are rumours that the position of Spa on the Formula 1 calendar is uncertain, but thankfully, we are still racing there with the touring cars!” Coronel got his weekend off to a good start by posting the fastest lap time in first free practice. “It felt well right away. Of course, I have done many laps here, also a lot of coaching of other drivers, so it really helps that I know the territory very well,” the driver pointed out.
Coronel ended up fourth in second free practice and wasn’t unhappy with that either. “Also because I have handicap weight on board as I was on pole position and won the previous race. Forty kilograms extra on board, that is clear to notice under accelerating and also while decelerating under braking, it just costs time. I reckon that at this circuit, it is a difference of some six, seven tenths of a second. But the car handles really well, especially with fresh tyres.” In qualifying, Coronel was in second place after his first run, but he deliberately wanted to be a bit further down; “The strategy was that I absolutely didn’t want to be among the first five because then I will be allowed to drop some weight for the next event. Therefore, I ended up ninth on the grid and that was exactly right, because I wanted to be eighth, ninth or tenth as this also means a nice grid slot at the front for the second race.”
In the opening race, Coronel made up two places at the start right away, moving up to seventh already. Coronel, full of enthusiasm: “After that, I had intense fights with Jelmini and Gavrilov. Really serious battles including some damage: the front bumper was damaged, the bracket underneath the front bumper was bent as well, mirrors were damaged, but that is touring car racing for you, really the way it should be! Eventually, I found my way past and that is how I ended up in fifth place. The speed was good, but I was unable to move up any further, this was what was in it for me.”
Coronel started the second race from second on the grid, but this time, he didn’t make so much progress in the opening stages: “I was still second going into the first corner, but there, I was hit a few times and had a poor exit as a result, dropping back to third. That is where I was going up the Raidillon and all the way down Les Combes and I stayed there for the full eight laps. Too bad, I had expected to be able to start some more duels, but that didn’t quite work out, probably also because of the extra weight. But still, third place, another trophy to take home and I am second in the championship standings, so I can definitely be happy with that.”
Coronel’s next event is the FIA WTCR World Touring Car Cup round at Motorland Aragón in Alcañiz in Spain next weekend. There, Coronel secured the first-ever podium result for the Audi RS 3 LMS that was new at the time last year. “Hopefully, we can build on that,” he says.