Thrilling moments and podium for Tom Coronel at the Nürburgring
NÜRBURG – For Tom Coronel, the 2021 season in the FIA WTCR – World Touring Car Cup got underway with a pair of races at the Nürburgring Nordschleife on the support bill of the annual 24-hour race. It was also the competition debut of the new-for-this-year Audi RS 3 LMS. In seventh place overall in the first race, Coronel was the best-placed Audi driver. With the RS 3 in the colours of DHL, run by Belgian outfit Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport, he also came out on top in the WTCR Trophy classification for privateer drivers. In race two, Coronel looked set to repeat this success, but then had a brief off-track excursion after which he finished eleventh as the second privateer driver. In the 24-hour race, in which he raced a Porsche Cayman, Coronel was one of the many victims of the very difficult conditions: he went off the track. “For the first time in 14 participations in the 24-hour race,” he said. As a result, the race was over for him at an early stage.
With the 14th time in first free practice of the FIA WTCR and the sixth-fastest time in the second session, Coronel made it clear that he was on the pace with the new car at the 25.378 kilometres long combination of the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit and the Nordschleife. In qualifying, he missed out on tenth place, that would have put him on pole position for the opening race because of the reversed grid ruling for the top ten, by only two thousandths of a second. “Unbelievable: zero point zero zero two,” Coronel said. “And that on such a long lap! On my final lap, I had some smoke in the car, there was a minor issue because of which I only just missed out on the top ten. Fortunately, I was still the fastest Audi driver.”
The two races were run on Saturday morning prior to the 24-hour race with Coronel eleventh on the grid for both races. “The first race was a good one for me, I was able to make nice progress,” he reported. “I was slightly stuck during the first two laps, but on the final lap, I managed to overtake Yann Ehrlacher with a nice move on the straight, that went really well. As a result, I finished seventh as the best Audi driver, I am quite pleased with that!
In the second race, I made a good start and things were going well until I got off at the jump. I was having some issues while downshifting as the compressor for downshifts gave an alarm signal. There was more and more noise coming from the gearbox as well, so I did the final lap only in fourth and fifth place so that I could at least make it to the finish. Fortunately, I was able to keep the car out of the barriers and ended up eleventh. I think we can be happy with the first weekend, we had a nice pace!”
In the 24-hour race, Coronel raced a Porsche Cayman run by German team G-Tech Competition, sharing the car with fellow Dutchman Jan Jaap van Roon and the two Germans Maximilian Kurz and Alexander Kroker. In the evening, things went wrong for Coronel who came off the track at the Bellof-S around 8.30pm and crashed hard into the barriers. He escaped unscathed, but the Porsche was damaged beyond immediate repair. “During the extremely heavy rain in the opening stages, we had some issues with the electronics. After that, it went well until I looked into my rearview mirror during my stint as a faster car was coming up behind me. That was probably when I hit a wet patch and I ended up in the barriers. It is my first time crashing here in my 14th participation in the 24-hour race, too bad. But anyway, better luck next year.” The next FIA WTCR event will be held at the circuit of Estoril in Portugal, 26 and 27 June.