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Nurburgring Nordschleife

Nürburgring 24 Hours once again a special experience for Tom Coronel

Gepubliceerd op 04 June 2024

NÜRBURG (2 June 2024) – “In almost 35 years of racing, I have seen quite a lot, but this was something really special again,” Dutch driver Tom Coronel said after his 15th participation in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. Dense fog was the reason that eventually only one third of the race could actually be run. “A different feeling, but there is no doubt that safety comes first,” Coronel said. Together with his teammates Paul Meijer, Jan Jaap van Roon and Tiago Monteiro, he ended up seventh in the Porsche Cup class and 26th overall with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup run by German team Max Kruse Racing. “We will certainly be back next year,” Coronel already announced. 


Prior to the event, it was already clear that the weather would have a major influence on the 52nd running of the annual 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. On Thursday, the first two practice sessions already took place in varying conditions, while the third qualifying session on Friday was held on a dry track, but rain and fog were predicted for Saturday in particular. In the combined results of the three qualifying sessions, the car of Coronel and his teammates ended up seventh in class, which therefore was also the team’s starting grid position for the race. “The determining factor was how much traffic you encountered, you just had to be lucky,” Coronel explained. “In one sector I lost over four seconds. So that was unfortunate, but for the rest I was on the pace and it went really well.”

The race got underway at 4pm Saturday and rain already set in during the formation lap. Coronel took the start in the Porsche with starting number 127 and set off on rain tyres. That turned out to be the right choice: he immediately charged ahead from seventh place on the grid to took the lead in class while still on the Grand Prix circuit and went on to lead his starting group onto the Nordschleife. “Driving in the lead was super exciting, because you have to judge the track surface yourself, how much grip there is, but fortunately it all went well,” he reported afterwards. During his stint, Coronel staged a nice duel with one of the other Porsches, with the two 911s alternating a few times in traffic for the class lead. Finally, at the end of a double stint, Coronel managed to bring the car in as class leader for the driver change. 

His teammates also having finished their stints, Coronel got back into the car late Saturday night. By then, however, conditions were getting worse almost by the minute. His account: “I was driving at Schwedenkreuz, where we normally do 250, and I already said to the team over the board radio: ‘I just don’t believe this!’ I only had the white line to find my way, that’s how little visibility there was. And sure enough half a lap later the red flag was waved as a sign that the race was stopped. It really wasn’t doable.” After the red flag at around 11.30pm, race control announced that there would be no racing at least until 7am on Sunday morning. 

That was when the long wait started. “I went to my little camper and slept, because there was nothing else we could do anyway,” Coronel said. Things didn’t get any better on Sunday either. Eventually, from 1.30pm onwards, five more laps were completed behind the safety-car, but a restart at race pace was impossible due to persistent poor visibility in several places, so race control finally declared the race over.

“I did gain a few new experiences again,” Coronel said. “Driving a Porsche in the rain on the Nordschleife was new for me, but I soon had a good feeling with the car. Also, driving when the red flag came was quite intense. That we were only able to drive one-third of the normal race time is a different feeling, but during the hours we were able to race I still had a nice competition. My teammates also did a great job. Paul (Meijer) was super on his debut in the 24-hour race, Jan Jaap (van Roon) really drove a mega stint in the rain and Tiago (Monteiro) was also very strong. The combination was a really good choice, so count on us to be there again next year!’